By Bob Dutton The News Tribune
BOSTON — It’s one thing to pull out a victory, as the Seattle Mariners did Friday, by doing everything right in a stunning ninth-inning rally. What happened Sunday, when they completed a three-game sweep, is something else again.
The Mariners got their sweep with an 8-6 victory over the Boston Red Sox by finding a way through the muck on a day when they did a lot of things wrong.
They squandered an early three-run lead when Hisashi Iwakuma suffered another attack of his Boston yips. They saw their All-Star centerpiece, second baseman Robinson Cano, leave the game because of dizziness.
They ran the bases, at times, like pre-schoolers on an Easter egg hunt.
And still, somehow, they won.
“I think this had to be the craziest series we’ve been in this year,” said Dustin Ackley, who finished a homer short of the cycle in leading a 13-hit attack.
“Just as far as back and forth, coming from behind, scoring a lot of runs, rallying. … All that is huge. And what our bullpen has done the last two days, coming in early and chewing up some innings was huge.”
The relief corps permitted one run in 62⁄3 innings Sunday in completing a weekend in which it permitted one earned run in 151⁄3 innings.
“I said earlier this season that we have three or four closers,” closer Fernando Rodney said. “That’s what makes it a tough bullpen. When you have a bullpen like that, you can go a long way and win a lot of games.”
The end didn’t come easily.
Rodney yielded a one-out single to Mookie Betts and issued a two-out walk to Brock Holt, which put the tying runs on base for Dustin Pedroia. Both runners moved into scoring position on a double steal.
A walk to Pedroia loaded the bases for Kelly Johnson, who entered the game in the sixth inning as a replacement for an injured David Ortiz.
When Rodney secured his 37th save by striking out Johnson, the Mariners — after 4 hours and 7 minutes — had their first-ever sweep at Fenway Park in a series of three or more games.
“Crazy game, crazy series,” said Brad Miller, who drove in two runs after replacing Cano. “It was fun.”
The Mariners matched their 2013 victory total by improving to 71-58 and maintained a one-game lead over Detroit in the battle for the American League’s final wild-card spot.
They did it with a balanced attack in addition to their superb bullpen. Five players had multiple hits, and six different players drove in runs. None were bigger, perhaps, than Miller’s two-out RBI double in the ninth.
That provided Rodney with an extra cushion as he wobbled through a 34-pitch inning. Like everyone else, manager Lloyd McClendon felt there was little to do but watch to see how it turned out.
“Rodney is a veteran,” he said. “He’s been through the wars. What the heck am I going to tell him?”
Cano exited in the third inning, complaining of dizziness. He was later diagnosed as having the same flu-like symptoms that forced first baseman Logan Morrison to miss Saturday’s game.
“I just feel like I have the flu,” Cano said. “I got dizzy out there. I feel a little bit better now. Hopefully, I should be OK for tomorrow.”
Presumably, Iwakuma will be fine when his next start rolls around because he won’t be facing the Red Sox. He gave up five runs while lasting just 21⁄3 innings in the shortest start of his career.
“To be honest, I don’t know the key,” said Iwakuma, who has allowed 17 earned runs and 30 hits over 15 innings in four career starts against the Red Sox.
The Mariners jumped to a 3-0 lead in the first inning against Boston starter Allen Webster despite running into two outs on the bases. But Iwakuma gave it right back in a three-run first.
Iwakuma exited when Boston took a 5-3 lead in the third. In came Dominic Leone, who restored order by working 22⁄3 scoreless innings.
When the Mariners regained the lead by rallying against Webster, Leone (7-2) got his second victory in three games. It made for quite a weekend for the Norwich, Conn., native in his first professional trip to Fenway.
“Everyone is going to have those days,” Leone said, “and Kuma had one today. I knew from the get-go that I had to make it work. You’ve got to fill those innings somehow. I just took it hitter by hitter.”
The Mariners closed to 5-4 on Chris Denorfia’s sacrifice fly in the fourth and took a 6-5 lead with two runs in the fifth. Ackley had an RBI triple, and Miller followed with a sacrifice fly.
Then they just had to hold it.
They did with a relay of Leone to Joe Beimel to Danny Farquhar to Charlie Furbush to Tom Wilhelmsen and, finally, Rodney.
“Very draining,” McClendon said. “It was a tough day in a lot of different ways for us. We got the win, so that makes everything OK.”