If you somehow managed to miss this entire weekend of Seattle visiting the Sox, you really missed out on some of the best baseball of the season.
Let’s dive right in…
Friday night’s game was one of the greatest I’ve ever witnessed. It definitely was one of the best of the season so far (MLB agrees!) and here’s why…
With knuckleballer Steven Wright on the mound for the series opener, no one really knew what to expect. Sure, he’d been dominant in his first three starts of the season, but knuckleballers are notoriously unpredictable and finicky. Cue Wright giving up 4 runs in the top of the first; a 3-run homer to Nelson Cruz, followed immediately by a solo homer. Cruz would hit a second 3-run homer off Wright a few innings later. Wright’s final line was dismal: 10 hits, 10 runs, and just 2 K’s over 3.1 innings.
Luckily, the Red Sox did not do what they’ve done so many times this season, and accept immediate defeat. In the bottom of the 1st, they came back to score 5 RUNS and take the lead.
What followed was a tug-of-war throughout the remaining 8 innings. After the Mariners took a 10-5 lead, the Sox again came roaring back. JD Martinez went 4-for-5 on the night, with 5 RBIs, 3 extra-base hits, 3 runs scored, and his 23rd homer of the season.
Weirdly, after the 1st inning comeback, I wasn’t worried for the rest of the game. I just had a feeling that the Sox could win it, and I was right. Literally, every single batter in the Sox lineup had at least one hit – yes, even Blake Swihart – and Eduardo Nuñez, who came in to pinch. The boys combined for a season-high 20-hit parade and won the game 14-10.
After Friday night’s veritable run feast, it almost makes sense that the Sox lost 7-2. Almost.
I said it Friday night: if you can score 14 runs on 20 hits in a single game, I never want to see a scoreless side from you again. The Sox raised the bar on Friday night, and then immediately couldn’t meet their own new standard.
After going 13-1 in games started by Eduardo Rodriguez, it was the perfect time for everything to fall apart for the man Dennis Eckersley once called “yuck.” Like Wright the night before, ERod let the Mariners get on the board almost immediately in the top of the first. He lasted just 4 innings, allowing 3 runs in his last, before giving the game over to Hector Velazquez.
Seattle starter Mike Leake fared far better against the Boston bats, holding them to just three hits on 98 pitches. The Red Sox left the bases loaded in the bottom of the 1st, and Leake didn’t give them the opportunity to put more than one runner on in any of his remaining 7 innings. He walked two and struck out five.
It wasn’t until Leake handed the game over to Edwin Diaz in the 9th that the Sox finally warmed up a little. JD Martinez had a leadoff single, and Mitch Moreland had his second triple in as many games to drive him in. Eduardo Nuñez followed with an RBI single to make it 7-2, before Diaz finally shut the Sox down for good.
Today, Chris Sale finally got what he deserved. And by that, I mean an avalanche of run support. After what feels like weeks of the lineup staying maddeningly quiet during his games, the Sox bats heated up to give Sale a lovely 5-0 win.
Sale held Seattle down for 7 full innings, only allowing 4 hits on 93 pitches, his velocity topping out at 100.5 mph. His 13 strikeouts were the second-most by him in a game this season; he had 15 K’s in the May 11th loss to Toronto. Today was his 6th game of the season with 10 or more strikeouts, but only the second of those games that the Sox have actually won, due mostly to the aforementioned lack of run support.
The game stayed scoreless through 4.5 innings, plenty of time for fans to get nervous that the lineup would screw Sale again. Seattle starter Marco Gonzalez fanned six, but in the bottom of the 5th, the boys remembered how to do their job. Xander Bogaerts and Eduardo Nunñez got on base on back-to-back hits before child prodigy Rafael Devers had an RBI double to bring X home. A pair of sac flies made the score 3-0 in Boston’s favor.
Putting the final nail in Seattle’s coffin, Mitch Moreland hit his 11th homer of the season, a 2-run blast to center to drive in himself and JD Martinez. I love them hitting back-to-back in the lineup, by the way. On the rare occasion that JD actually ends up on base instead of rounding the bases, Mitchy is right there to bring him home.
Joe Kelly and Matt Barnes came in for an inning apiece to finish a game that felt over innings before. All in all, the game lasted just under two-and-a-half hours, their 28th game of the season to be less than three hours long.
Today’s game felt like a dream from which I never want to wake up: Sale absolutely smoking every batter he faces, while the lineup has his back and puts runs on the board. JBJ even went 3-for-3! I would’ve been happy with a win, but a shutout? You’re too good to me, Red Sox.
This marks the end of the Sox-Mariners for the regular season, with the Sox winning both this series and their overall matchup for the year!