McClendon: Stretch drive starts now

BOSTON — The stretch drive started Friday for the Seattle Mariners.

“I would say this is it,” manager Lloyd McClendon said before his club opened a three-game weekend series against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.

“It really is. We have to up our game in a lot of different ways, both mentally and physically. They all get tough from here on out.”

Counting Friday, the Mariners have 36 games remaining. They began the day trailing Detroit by one-half game in the race for the American League’s final wild-card berth.

McClendon plans to ride his regulars over the final five-plus weeks. He said players will no longer get days off to rest.

“Other than our scheduled days off,” he said, “no.”

That’s the way it should be, said second baseman Robinson Cano, a veteran of postseason races during his nine seasons with the New York Yankees.

“This is the time when you don’t want to take a day off,” Cano said. “Every game means a lot. You’ve got to be ready every single day.

“This is why, in the off-season, I work really hard because this is the time when your team really needs you.”

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