How very-much needed for the Seattle Mariners.
Not only a win, but a win in Boston, a win when they held on to a five-run lead, and a win behind some lock-down pitching.
The Mariners scored 10 runs and lost the night before. They scored seven runs Saturday and ended the night with a 7-2 win over the Red Sox to end their season-high five-game losing streak.
Seattle (47-30) won for the first time in exactly a week, when they also shut out the Red Sox for a 1-0 win at Safeco Field.
Mike Leake threw a gem.
“(That was) exactly what we needed,” Mariners manager Scott Servais told reporters after the game.
Leake allowed three hits in eight shutout innings with five strikeouts, and allowed one hit in the final seven innings he threw before turning to closer Edwin Diaz.
You can imagine how that conversation to take Leake out must have transpired.
“Very tough, very, very hard,” Servais said. “(Pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr.) didn’t even want to. He’s like, ‘You go tell him.’ That’s fine. (We were) trying to explain to him we were going into this game knowing Edwin Diaz needed to pitch tonight.
“I said, ‘Mike, 99 percent of the time no way we take you out of this game.’ But we needed to get Eddie out there, and it will help Eddie (Sunday) and the next time he gets out there.”
No complete game or shutout for Leake.
“I wanted it,” Leake said. “I was ready, but they wanted to get Diaz work, so there’s no fight there. You just got to take it.”
But oh, boy — more Mariners bullpen struggles.
Diaz hadn’t pitched since June 16, so the Mariners needed to get him in there. But after the Mariners’ bullpen had been battered all week, Diaz wasn’t much better, allowing back-to-back hits, including Mitch Moreland’s RBI triple and Eduardo Nunez’s RBI single until he finally shut this one down.
This came in the same week Leake allowed five runs in the third inning of the Mariners’ 9-3 loss against the Red Sox on Sunday, though Leake still went on to pitch six innings and didn’t allow any other runs in that game.
It was the ninth time in Leake’s career he’s thrown at least eight innings and allowed three or fewer hits, with the last similar performance coming in 2015 against the Dodgers as a member of the San Francisco Giants.
Leake helped the Mariners start this losing streak, but he also helped end it. For the first time this week, the Mariners held on to a five-run lead.
They went up 5-0 on Boston by the end of the fourth inning, but so fresh on their minds were Friday’s blunder in Boston and Wednesday’s bungle in the Bronx.
They had a 10-5 lead on Friday in a 14-10 loss to the Red Sox and a 5-0 lead on Wednesday in a 7-5 loss to the Yankees, a day after losing a 1-0 lead against the Yankees on Tuesday.
That is to say the Mariners had plenty of chances over their previous five games but none ended in wins. This one did.
“Up and down the lineup,” Servais said, “complete game tonight. Everybody chipped in. That’s what we’ve been about all year. Everybody contributed.”
Start with Mitch Haniger. He was riding a 1-for-19 stretch before going 2-for-3 on Friday. On Saturday he got the Mariners going with a double to center field, scoring Dee Gordon from first base. Gordon extended his hit streak to 11 games the at-bat before on an infield single.
Haniger brought two more runs home with another double in the fourth inning, a shot off of the Green Monster in left field. Kyle Seager followed with a rare infield single, beating Red Sox pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez to first base. Haniger had some heads-up baserunning, scoring from second on the play.
It need be mentioned that the Mariners took advantage of the Red Sox playing without right fielder Mookie Betts and shortstop Xander Bogaerts.
Betts was reportedly feeling sick, and Bogaerts sprained his finger in Friday’s game, though was available to come off the bench.
The Red Sox had 24-year-old Tzu-Wei Lin fresh from Triple-A Pawtucket and starting at shortstop. Ryon Healy got a ball past him in the third inning to score Cruz from third base.