By Bob Dutton The News Tribune
BOSTON — Seattle Mariners first baseman Logan Morrison was unavailable for Saturday’s game against the Red Sox after awakening with flu-like symptoms.
“I don’t know,” he said. “Something in my stomach. I don’t know if it was food poisoning or what. I’m starting to feel a little better. Hopefully, I’ll be OK for (Sunday).”
Whatever Morrison’s ailment, it required Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon to do some lineup juggling. Kendrys Morales, the usual designated hitter, replaced Morrison at first base.
McClendon then opted for Chris Denorfia in right field and Endy Chavez as the DH. Morales and Denorfia contributed singles to a seven-run fourth inning, and Chavez had a single in four at-bats.
“I’ve said this before,” McClendon said, “give me a veteran who is 70-75 percent over a rookie who is 100 percent. They bring so much more to the table. There’s nothing like experience.”
Rich Donnelly likens his job to being a traffic cop in that nobody tends to notice him unless there’s a big wreck. That’s just life’s reality for all third-base coaches.
“You show me a third-base coach who doesn’t get anybody thrown out,” McClendon said, “and I’ll show you a very bad third-base coach. Rich is willing to take the right chances in the right situation.”
Donnelly took one of those chances in Friday’s comeback victory over Boston by waving Dustin Ackley home from first base on Robinson Cano’s two-out single to right.
The Mariners had already scored four two-out runs, and Donnelly was willing to gamble on a knockout punch.
“That’s the time to do it,” he said. “If we’re down one, you can’t do it — unless you’ve got James Jones, maybe. I had Ack, but (right fielder Daniel) Nava took his time and kind of lobbed it in.
(Dustin) Pedroia made a heck of a play to make it close.”
But Ackley scored, the Mariners led 5-3 and their win percentage after the play jumped from 83 percent to 93 percent. It became 100 percent when Fernando Rodney closed out the victory.
“I was surprised, for sure,” Ackley said. “I was running on the pitch, and I kept running hard to third. I saw him waving me. Halfway to third, he kept waving and kept waving.
“I was like, ‘I’m just going to keep running.’ I wasn’t expecting it at all. I thought it was just a one- or two-hopper to right. I thought, ‘He’s probably going to shut me down here in a second,’ but he just kept waving me.”
Ackley’s 53 RBI are a career high. He had 50 in 2012 before dipping last season to 31. … The Mariners have never swept a three-game or a four-game series at Fenway Park. They have an opportunity Sunday for a three-game sweep. … Chavez walked three times in Friday’s game. That’s a career high in a career that spans 1,132 games. … The last time the Mariners erased a three-run deficit with two outs in the ninth inning, as they did Friday, was May 30, 2009 at Anaheim. Jose Lopez tied the game with a three-run homer against Brian Fuentes. The Mariners won 4-3 in 10 innings on Yuniesky Betancourt’s sacrifice fly. … The Mariners are 32-2 since June 1 when they score at least four runs. … .The Mariners have a plus-104 run differential through 128 games. They finished last season at minus-130.
It was 38 years ago Sunday — Aug. 24, 1976 — that “Mariners” was selected as the nickname for Seattle’s expansion franchise.
The nickname was chosen after a contest that attracted more than 15,000 entries. The winning entry was entered by Roger Szmodis of Bellevue.
The Mariners and Red Sox conclude their three-game weekend series at 10:35 a.m. PDT Sunday at Fenway Park.
Right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma (12-6 with a 2.57 ERA) will oppose Boston right-hander Allen Webster (3-1, 4.73). Root Sports will televise the game.
The Mariners open a six-game homestand Monday with the first of three games against Texas. After an open date Thursday, the homestand concludes with three weekend games against Washington.