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April 30, 2011 at 9:17 PM

Even Mariners pitchers aren’t sure how they shut the Red Sox out tonight

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Just got up from the clubhouse, where the two main Mariners pitchers tonight — Doug Fister and Aaron Laffey — seemed just as confused as anyone as to how they blanked the Boston Red Sox in this bandbox of a ballpark.
Boston had not been shut out since April 22 of last season, by the Texas Rangers. They stranded 11 men on base tonight, which was the most in a Red Sox shutout loss since the 2005 season.
Fister walked five guys, threw 31 pitches in the first inning, survived two bases loaded jams — including bases loaded, none out in the fifth — and had two balls off the Green Monster miss being home runs by a few feet.
As I mentioned before, he also made pitches when he had to…which was pretty much every inning.
So, how did he do it?
“It still hasn’t set in yet,” Fister said, shaking his head.
What about Laffey, whose 2 1/3 innings were key to tonight’s victory, since the Mariners did not want to use Jamey Wright again in the eighth?
“That’s the worst I’ve felt on the mound,” he admitted.
Not as bad as the Red Sox will be feeling after they read those quotes.

There was no need to ask Brandon League how he saved his seventh game in seven tries after a leadoff single in the ninth. League simply did what he always does when he’s on, which is get a ground-ball double play.
As for the other guys, it wasn’t all smoke and mirrors. As I said, they never gave in. They bent but they didn’t break.
Their defense wasn’t bad, either.
“That’s the defense we play, that’s our game,” Fister said. “I don’t know where to start. You’ve got (Miguel) Olivo diving into the stands to catch balls, (Justin) Smoak the same thing, middle infielders. (Chone) Figgins made a diving catch at third base. That’s what every pitcher’s dream is. Having defense playing all out, every inning.”
Olivo made that catch in the first row of stands to the right of home plate to end the sixth with two on, while a fired-up Fister yelled encouragement from the dugout. Smoak made a catch behind first base to get Fister out of that bases-loaded jam in the fifth.
Michael Saunders raced to deepest right center again to haul in a blast by J.D. Drew to lead off the eighth. That’s two balls from Drew — who hit one of the shots off the top of the Green Monster — tonight that could have gone out.
Hey, you know what we said earlier this week about teams needing to make their own luck and how good teams often do? You saw it here. The M’s have played good baseball the past week, kept themselves in the game, didn’t give up when the umps botched a call and tossed Milton Bradley and, guess what? They got some breaks of their own — one big one from the umps — and won the game.
It wasn’t all flukey, as I said. As bad as Fister looked at times, he was stellar when he had to be.
“He really competes out there,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. “He looks to me like he’s at his best when it’s a tough situation. You’ve got to make pitches. You’ve got to make pitches up here in general, but especially against a team with a group of hitters like that. They’re going to make you work. They made him work. But ultimately, he never gave in to it.”
Same with Laffey, who Wedge called “a difference maker for us tonight” in that he allowed the team to rest Wright and not force League into a multi-inning save. Laffey jumped ahead 0-2 on David Ortiz with two on and two out in the seventh, watched him take some tough breaking balls to even the count, then jammed him with a four-seam fastball inside to get a harmless flyout to left.
This bullpen has now tossed 13 1/3 scoreless innings. This team has gone 5-0 on this road trip, with Felix Hernandez going tomorrow.
Savor this.

Comments | Topics: Chone Figgins


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