Closing Time: Red Sox mount comeback of season, score six in ninth to top Mariners
|08.01.13 at 10:32 pm ET|
In a season of comebacks, this might have topped them all.
Down five runs in the ninth inning with Seattle closer Tom Wilhelmsen on the mound, the Red Sox stormed back to tie the game on a Jonny Gomes RBI single. Then, with one out and the bases loaded, Daniel Nava teed off on a first-pitch fastball from Yoervis Medina to hand the Sox an improbable 8-7 win on Thursday night.
The Sox started the comeback against Wilhelmsen, who left after surrendering a pair of hits and walks while not retiring a batter. The righty proceeded to give way to Oliver Perez, who allowed back-to-back singles to Shane Victorino and Dustin Pedroia to close the game to within a run.
Following Perez’s punchout of Ortiz, Medina came on to face Gomes, who lined a 3-2 fastball into center field to score Pedroia. After the game-tying hit, Medina walked Stephen Drew to load the bases with just the one out.
That’s when Nava launched a rocket over the head of center fielder Michael Saunders on a first-pitch fastball, clanging it off the base of the wall in center for the Sox’ second walkoff win in as many nights.
It figured to be an uphill battle for the Red Sox before a pitch was thrown, but thanks to Henry Blanco it became Mount Everest in a hurry. With Seattle starter Felix Hernandez once again dominating, the Mariners‘ light-hitting catcher’s fifth-inning grand slam helped put the Sox in a substantial 7-2 hole. But, the Sox wiped out the deficit to close out the series.
The win gave the Red Sox sole possession of first place, giving them a full game lead over idle Rays.
Earlier in the game it didn’t look good for the Sox, with Dempster allowing five or more runs for the third time in his last four starts. This time Seattle’s five-run fifth helped chase Dempster, who finished giving up seven runs on nine hits, striking out six and walking five.
Conversely, Hernandez continued to stake his claim to the title of baseball’s hottest pitcher, allowing one run over seven innings. Entering Thursday night’s game, the rigthy hadn’t allowed more than two runs in any of his previous six starts, totaling a 1.43 ERA during the stretch.
Here is what right (and wrong) for the Red Sox:
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX
– Gomes, who did not enter the game until the eighth inning when he walked as a pinch-hitter for Mike Carp, proved a game-changer in the game’s final inning. He made a pair of huge defensive plays, first pairing with Brock Holt to execute the defensive play of the night, with the left fielder taking a line drive off the left-field wall from Saunders and immediately firing it into third. The one-hop toss was scooped up by Holt, who tagged out Kendrys Morales. Gomes (who, of course, had a game-saving play with a diving catch that turned into an unassisted double play in the top of the 15th inning on Wednesday) proceeded to make a spectacular catch — in which he barreled into the metal scoreboard — to end the inning. He then delivered the game-tying single up the middle in the ninth.
– Ryan Lavarnway came away with a hit in his second straight start. It should be noted that the last four starters the backstop has faced (Bartolo Colon, Matt Moore, David Price, Hernandez) have a combined ERA of 2.87. He finished with a pair of hits for his second multi-hit game of the season.
– Victorino greeted reliever Charlie Furbush with a solo home run to lead off the eighth inning. It was the switch-hitter’s sixth homer of the season, three of which have come off lefties. The outfielder came into the game hitting exactly .282 against both lefties and righties.
– Ellsbury became just the sixth hitter over Hernandez’s last four starts to come away with a multi-hit game, notching a single and double.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX
– Kyle Seager continued to torture Red Sox pitching, this time, however, getting a little extra help. The third baseman helped produce the Mariners’ third run by lining what would have been a leadoff single in the fifth inning down the right-field line. Seager landed at third after a misplay from Victorino, eventually scoring when Morales singled him. Seager entered the game hitting .407 (11-for-27) with a 1.133 OPS against the Red Sox this season.
– The Mariners jumped on Dempster in the first inning, scoring the game’s first run when Seager took advantage of the Red Sox’ shift to bunt home Brad Miller. Miller had led off the game with a triple. It was the 14th time in his last 15 starts that Dempster has allowed at least one first-inning baserunner.
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