By Bob Dutton The News Tribune
SEATTLE — Here’s something to chew on, Mariners fans: If the season ended right now, the Mariners — the Mariners! — would be in postseason for the first time in 13 years.
OK-OK-OK … it’s late June and we’re not even to the season’s midpoint. All true. But Tuesday’s 8-2 victory over the Boston Red Sox boosted the Mariners into unfamiliar territory — even for this time of year.
Does it last? Who knows?
“There’s a really good feeling in the clubhouse,” said third baseman Kyle Seager, whose provided the key blow with a three-run homer in a four-run fifth inning.
“We know what we have in here, and we feel good about it. And we feel we’ll be able to sustain it.”
This much is certain: Right now, the Mariners are rolling in moving six games above .500, at 42-36, for the first time this season after stretching their winning streak to five games, which matches a season best.
Their attack, so run-starved at times, roused itself for a second straight night against the Red Sox by pounding veteran right-hander Jake Peavy (1-6) for seven runs in five innings.
Seager and Mike Zunino hit homers in a decisive fifth inning that pushed the lead to 7-2. Endy Chavez fueled the offense with three hits from the leadoff position.
It still wasn’t enough for Erasmo Ramirez, who settled for a no-decision after laboring through 4 1/3 innings. He gave up five hits and five walks, while throwing 93 pitches, but limited the damage to two runs.
“Lack of command again,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “Five walks, 90-some pitches in 4 1/3 innings. It’s pretty tough.”
The Mariners then turned to the American League’s best bullpen — hey, check the stats — to work through the final 4 2/3 innings.
A relay of Joe Beimel, Danny Farquhar, Charlie Furbush and Yoervis Medina limited the Red Sox to three hits. Beimel (2-1) was credited with the victory.
“The bullpen has been something else,” Zunino said. “It’s one of those things where they’ve been spread out well enough. Guys are comfortable in their roles and throwing the ball really well.
“I think a lot of that has to do with our starting pitchers getting us deep into the ballgames and taking the pressure off of having to eat up a bunch of innings.”
Ramirez put himself in a quick jam with successive one-out walks in the first inning to Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz before getting an big break from umpire Dan Bellino on a called full-count strike against Mike Napoli.
Replays suggested the ball was low. (When things are going good…)
Ramirez then loaded the bases by walking Daniel Nava, but A.J. Pierzynski, swinging on the first pitch, hit a routine grounder to second for the final out.
Chavez opened the Mariners’ first with a single and went to second when Peavy walked James Jones. Robinson Cano flied out to center, but Seager lashed an RBI double past Napoli at first.
Logan Morrison followed with a sacrifice fly for a 2-0 lead.
The Mariners added another run in the second when Brad Miller, after a one-out walk, scored on Chavez’s triple into the right-field corner.
The Boston third was interesting.
First, Morrison made a diving catch on Pedroia’s leadoff line. Ortiz then drew a walk before Napoli hooked a drive to left that Dustin Ackley appeared to catch, spectacularly, with a diving play.
Boston challenged that the ball came out after Ackley hit the ground, which replays confirmed. The Mariners then questioned whether Napoli had passed Ortiz on the bases. The umps considered that — and ruled no.
After an extended double delay, Ramirez, in perhaps his finest moment of the game, shrugged it all off by retiring Daniel Nava on a pop and A.J. Pierzynski on a routine fly to right.
Ramirez’s luck ended with two outs in the fourth when Brock Holt crushed an 88-mile fastball for a two-run homer to right.
Boston chased Ramirez in the fifth when a single by Napoli and a walk to Nava put runners at first and second with one out. In came Beimel, who struck out Pierzynski and got Xander Bogaerts to ground into a force.
The Mariners pushed back later in the inning after Chavez led off with a bunt single. Jones then barely avoided a double play on a grounder to first. Red Sox manager John Farrell challenged again; this time, he lost.
Jones went to third when Cano yanked a single to right, and Seager followed with a high drive to right for a three-run homer. That quickly, the lead was 6-2.
One out later, Zunino hit a long homer to left. The bullpen took it from there.
“We’re trusting one another and trusting ourselves,” Zunino said. “I think that’s the biggest thing. There’s a trust and a confidence that’s growing.”