|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. Read the rest of this entry »
A year and a day after being involved in his own deadline deal — moving from the Cubs to the Rangers — right-hander Ryan Dempster will get the ball as the Red Sox host the Mariners and their right-handed ace, Felix Hernandez, in the finale of the midweek series, the last time the teams will face off in 2013.
Dempster has been up and down of late, and he has only recorded one out in the seventh inning in the last month and a half. Still, he owns a 4.30 ERA and 1.73 WHIP in that span of seven starts, numbers that aren’t far off from his marks of a 4.24 ERA and 1.45 WHIP in 2013.
His last outing, which came in a 7-3 over the Orioles on Saturday in Baltimore, was unspectacular despite his notching the win. Dempster lasted only 84 pitches over 5 1/3 innings as the Orioles touched him up for two runs on six hits and two walks while striking out on four occasions and stranding four runners.
The biggest pitch of the night was a fifth-inning slider to Manny Machado, which he sent to shortstop Stephen Drew for an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.
“Luckily I was able to just bear down, make a pitch, get a double play and get out of there,” Dempster said afterward.
Manager John Farrell commended Dempster.
“He stayed out of the middle of the plate, and he used his split effectively,” Farrell said. “He was able to elevate his fastball to some left-handers to get some fly balls. And I think he’s got a feel for how he pitches against his team. … He’s not afraid to get behind in the count and use a slider or split to get back in the count or get some mis-hits, and against a very aggressive fastball-hitting team, he matches well.”
Dempster has seen the Mariners once this season, and it was only three starts ago. On July 11, his final outing before the All-Star break, he tossed 3 1/3 innings while giving up seven runs (four earned) on seven hits and a walk. His defense — namely, a second-inning error from Brock Holt at third base — let him down, leading to three unearned runs and a much higher pitch count.
|Red Sox-Mariners series preview||07.30.13 at 10:41 am ET|
The Red Sox will welcome the Mariners to Fenway for the first (and only) time this season, kicking off a three-game set on Tuesday evening.
It’s been an intense schedule for the Red Sox to kick off the unofficial second half. The Sox have faced exclusively AL East rivals since returning from the break, playing three against the Yankees, four against the Rays, and three against the Orioles, capped by a makeup game with the Rays on Monday that had the atmosphere of a playoff matchup. A 2-1 loss in an exciting and tight game means the Red Sox are a half-game back of the Rays in the AL East standings with a 63-44 record. It was a frustrating night all around, with a blown call by home plate umpire Jerry Meals one of the deciding factors in the game.
“This is not something that fazes us,” said right fielder Shane Victorino. “It’s just, yeah, it’s a little disappointing. But beyond that, we can’t sit there and dwell on the moment. Tomorrow’s another day.”
With the division race as tight as it is with four of the five teams above .500, the Red Sox will approach the non-waiver trade deadline on Wednesday looking to improve in a number of areas, at least for the right price. Right-handed relievers, left-side infield help and starting pitching depth remain the club’s top priorities as the deadline draws near.
The Mariners are one of those teams that seems to be undecided as to whether they’re buyers or sellers leading up to the July 31 deadline. Even though they’re five games under .500, 12½ games behind the AL West-leading A’s and 7½ games out of a wild card spot, the Mariners have been on a roll in July. Although they’ve gone 2-3 since an eight-game winning streak in the middle of the month, they’ve still won 15 of their last 23 games. The streak has allowed the club to move past the Angels and take hold of third place in the West division.
They’ll come to Boston without an important part of their team: manager Eric Wedge. Wedge suffered a mild stroke before the Mariners’ game on July 22. He’s since been released from the hospital and met with the team on Sunday, but he won’t be making the road trip. In his absence, bench coach Robby Thompson has assumed managerial duties for the time being.
This will be the last meeting between the Red Sox and Mariners in the 2013 regular season. The Red Sox took three of four games in Seattle earlier this month.
Here are the pitching matchups for the three-game set.
Tuesday: Brandon Workman (0-1, 4.40) vs. Joe Saunders (9-9, 4.48)
Wednesday: John Lackey (7-8, 3.19) vs. Hisashi Iwakuma (10-4, 2.87)
Thursday: Ryan Dempster (6-8, 4.24) vs. Felix Hernandez (11-4, 2.34)
WHO’S HOT: RED SOX
• David Ortiz took out his frustrations on a dugout phone on Saturday, but now it seems like he’s taking out those frustrations on baseballs instead. Ortiz followed that incident with a 4-for-4 day and is batting .429/.512/.600 over his last 10 games with three doubles and a home run, drawing six walks (two intentional) while striking out only three times. It’s just more of the same from the Red Sox slugger, who is batting an impressive .329/.414/606 on the season, leading the team in just about every offensive category with 20 home runs and 67 RBIs in 86 games.
|Monday’s Red Sox-Mariners matchups: Jon Lester vs. Felix Hernandez||07.08.13 at 1:54 pm ET|
Jon Lester has been more effective his last two starts, seemingly coming out of his month-long sputter, and he will look to continue that uptick in sharpness Monday night at Safeco Field against the Mariners and their ace, Felix Hernandez.
June was cruel to Lester (8-4, 4.41 ERA), the left-handed starter who tops the Red Sox depth chart while Clay Buchholz is on the DL. His ERA rose from 2.72 on May 15 to 4.61, its peak, on June 27.
However, that June 27 start — in which he allowed four earned runs in seven innings — could represent the start of a turnaround for Lester. He followed that up with seven more innings of one-run ball in a 2-1 win over the Padres last Wednesday, scattering six hits and a walk while striking out five.
He gave up half of those hits during a 32-pitch first inning, but Lester settled down after that in his eventual no-decision, paving the way for Jonny Gomes’ walk-off dramatics.
“The team’s been doing pretty good,” Lester told reporters after the game. “I think I’ve thrown the ball better at times — better than what my line scores have been showing. There have been some bad ones mixed in there, but after last start [June 27] and this start, maybe start stringing some good ones together and get on a little bit of a roll.”
Lester has found success against the team closest to his hometown of Tacoma, Wash. He is 4-2 with a 3.58 ERA while striking out 63 batters in 60 1/3 innings.
Hernandez — who Saturday was named an AL All-Star for the fourth time — has similar numbers against the Sox (6-2, 3.18 ERA).
|Red Sox-Mariners series preview||at 12:26 pm ET|
The Red Sox will look to rebound from a tough series against the Angels, heading north to take on the Mariners for the first time in 2013.
The West Coast road trip got off to a frustrating start for the Red Sox, who took the first game of the series with the Angels but lost a heartbreaker on Saturday night and were shut out by Jered Weaver and the Angels bullpen on Sunday. It was the first series the Red Sox dropped since losing three of four against Detroit on their last road trip.
“Last night was a tough loss. One out away from winning the series and it got away from us,” Sox manager John Farrell told reporters after Sunday’s setback. “We didn’t close the door and they kind of kicked it down and walked through it last night. I still like this team. Tonight, we didn’t create a whole lot for ourselves, but this is a team that continues to battle. There’s a lot of good at-bats. We’re going to put a lot of people on base. Tonight just wasn’t one of them.”
Despite the trying three-game set in Anaheim, the Red Sox still enjoy a 4½-game lead over the Rays and Orioles, while the Yankees fell to five games out with a loss on Sunday. With 54 wins, the Red Sox still have more victories than anyone else in the majors, and have won seven of their last 10. With the defeat on Sunday, the Red Sox fell to 23-20 on the road and 11-8 against AL West foes. The stop in Seattle is the second-to-last series for the Sox before they send (at least) three representatives to the All-Star Game, with David Ortiz making the start at the designated hitter position and Dustin Pedroia and Clay Buchholz joining the AL squad. Reliever Koji Uehara also has a shot at making the team in a final fan vote.
The 39-49 Mariners have not been a winning team since April 5. They sit 12½ games back of the Rangers in the AL West. Their offense ranks in the bottom third of most offensive categories, while their starting rotation is hit-or-miss and their bullpen is one of the worst in the league. But despite all of this, the Mariners have been playing good baseball over the past couple of weeks.
The Mariners, a much better home team (21-22) than road team (18-27) finally won consecutive road series when they took two out of three from both the first-place Rangers and the 50-38 Reds. Seattle wasn’t able to gain much ground in the division, but the M’s managed to stay afloat, trailing the third-place Angels by only four games.
“It’s a real good trip for us,” manager Eric Wedge said after Sunday’s 3-1 victory in Cincinnati. “I think we would have liked to have won one more, but you don’t get greedy this time of year. You work hard to win series. Our guys fought hard and played pretty good baseball.”
It hasn’t been easy for the Mariners, but there have been bright spots. They will send two All-Stars to the Midsummer Classic in New York City this year, with staff ace Felix Hernandez being joined by another starter, Hisashi Iwakuma. The pair have been a force to be reckoned with at the top of the rotation, combining to post a 2.64 ERA between them. Another thing the Mariners have done well is hit home runs. The ageless Raul Ibanez may be the only player with 20-plus long balls, but the Seattle offense has combined for 104 home runs, good for fourth in the American League and more than stacked lineups like the Angels or the Tigers. But things haven’t quite clicked for the Mariners yet, and they’ll come into their first series with the Red Sox 10 games under .500.
Here are the pitching matchups for the four-game set:
Monday: Jon Lester (8-4, 4.41) vs. Felix Hernandez (8-4, 2.69)
Tuesday: Allen Webster (1-2, 7.88) vs. Hisashi Iwakuma (7-4, 2.60)
Wednesday: Felix Doubront (5-3, 4.11) vs. Aaron Harang (4-7, 4.92)
Thursday: Ryan Dempster (5-8, 4.04) vs. Jeremy Bonderman (1-3, 4.93)
WHO’S HOT: RED SOX
• There’s no question that Daniel Nava has been one of the team’s most consistent hitters throughout the first half of the season. The outfielder ranks third on the team in OBP (.378), third in slugging percentage (.450) and fourth in batting average (.294), and he’s tied with Pedroia for the third-most RBIs on the team (50). Though Nava went through a cool stretch in June, he’s heating up once again, going 7-for-14 in the series against the Angels, while batting .415 over his last 11 games with five RBIs, three doubles, and a walk. Overall this season, Nava is batting .294/.378/.450 with 10 home runs and 14 doubles, while drawing 35 walks and striking out 60 times in 79 games.
|Hot Stove: Mariners discuss multi-year extension with Felix Hernandez||12.04.12 at 10:52 am ET|
CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman tweeted Tuesday that the Mariners have discussed a multi-year deal with starting pitcher Felix Hernandez, with the team’s aim to make him a “Mariner for life.” Heyman notes that talks are still “very preliminary.”
Hernandez, 26, has two years remaining on his five-year, $78 million deal. Last season, Hernandez posted a 3.06 ERA and 223 strikeouts in 232 innings, marking his fifth consecutive season with 200 or more innings pitched.
|Thursday’s Red Sox-Mariners matchups: Franklin Morales vs. Felix Hernandez||06.28.12 at 8:22 am ET|
Thursday night marks the beginning of a seven-game West Coast tour for the Red Sox. Boston hasn’t had a day off since June 18 and won’t get one until July 5, but the workload doesn’t appear to wearing the team down — so far, anyway. The Sox have won 11 of their last 14 games and, at 40-35, are five games over .500 for the first time this season.
This trip may be a long one, but once in Seattle the Sox have the good fortune of facing a Mariners club that is dead last in its division and ranks in the bottom half of the league in nearly every major offensive and pitching category.
After spending the bulk of his five-plus seasons as a reliever, Franklin Morales (1-1) will make his third straight start. The 26-year-old pitched well in his first two starts, going five innings and allowing two earned runs with nine strikeouts in a 7-4 Sox win over the Cubs on June 17, and giving up three runs (two earned) over six innings with eight strikeouts in an 8-4 win over the Braves on June 23. The latter earned Morales his first win of the year.
Granted, his total of 34 2/3 innings pitched isn’t a large enough sample to make a fair comparison, but it’s at least worth noting that Morales’ 3.12 ERA is best among Sox starters by more than a run. How he fares as his innings increase will be important to watch, as Morales has never pitched more than 46 innings in a season.
Having spent the majority of his career with Colorado before joining the Sox in May of last season, Morales has only faced the Mariners three times, all in relief appearances. The current Mariners lineup has a total of two hits and zero RBIs in just seven plate appearances against the lefty.
Facing off against Morales is fellow 26-year-old Venezuelan Felix Hernandez. After an up-and-down season, King Felix appears to be rounding into the form that earned him the 2010 Cy Young award, going seven innings and allowing just one earned run in each of his last two starts. He’s also been fantastic at home this season, with a 2.52 ERA and 51 strikeouts to just 13 walks in 50 innings.
Overall, Hernandez in 5-5 in 15 starts this season, with an ERA of 3.36, 11th best in the AL. He also ranks sixth in the AL with 101 2/3 innings pitched while his 101 strikeouts are good for fifth.
In his career, Hernandez is 5-2 against the Red Sox with an ERA of 3.55 and 63 strikeouts in 76 innings. The current Boston lineup is hitting a collective .269 off the righty, with 14 RBIs and 40 strikeouts in 162 plate appearances.
Adrian Gonzalez (11-for-36, 6 RBIs), Dustin Pedroia (10-for-28, 1 double, 1 home run, 3 RBIs) and Mike Aviles (5-for-11, 1 double, 1 RBI) have posted impressive numbers against Hernandez.
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