Saturday, June 23, 2018

Game 77: Seattle Mariners at Red Sox (June 22, 2018)

This particularly tough stretch of the schedule continues with the Mariners making a visit to Fenway Park only five days after hosting the Red Sox in Seattle. After a long and aggravating week at work I was excited to take my oldest daughter to her travel tournament tonight to watch her play. This was important to me since I'm going to miss the rest of her tournament over the weekend since I'll be coaching my son's final travel tournament of the season two hours away this weekend and staying overnight in a hotel. Thanks once again to the marvels of modern technology, I was able to watch and keep up with the Sox game during the breaks in her games. Unfortunately, her team only played one because a massive thunderstorm rolled through and forced the second one to be cancelled. Such is life. They'll make it up Saturday before beginning bracket play. Now, on to the Sox...



Seattle has been scuffling a bit lately, so I was hoping that combined with Steven Wright starting it would lead to a solid Red Sox win. Like Chris Sale and David Price, Wright has been the victim of inconsistent run support over the past month; he's pitched great over the last few weeks but doesn't have too much to show for it. Were the Boston bats waking up in the final Minnesota game a mirage or were they back to stay? Well, they were back for at least another night as this was one of the wildest games of the season...run support wasn't an issue in this game!

I've always said that watching a knuckleball pitcher is an exercise in extremes: he's either going to be unhittable or he's going to throw batting practice. There's no in-between. In this game, Wright was throwing BP as the Mariners quickly went up 4-0 in the top of the first when Nelson Cruz launched a three run homer followed by a solo shot from Ryon Healy. Shockingly, the Sox not only tied it up but took the lead in the bottom of the inning, all off of Wade LeBlanc who had held them scoreless in Seattle last week. First, JD Martinez hit an RBI double to drive in Mookie Betts. Mitch Moreland followed this up with an RBI single to drive in Andrew Benintendi. Brock Holt got in on the action with an RBI double to drive in JD followed by Rafael Devers driving in Moreland on a fielder's choice. Finally, Christian Vazquez hit a ground rule double to bring in Holt. Just like that, it was 5-4 Red Sox after a single inning! It didn't last long as Seattle tied it in the top of the second when Mitch Haniger's single drove in Andrew Romine. Cruz struck again with a single to drive in Dee Gordon and in an instant, Seattle was back on top. They added to their lead in the fourth when the pesky Denard Span doubled to drive Romine in before Cruz hurt Boston for the third time in this game with his second three run homer. 10-5 Seattle and it seemed like one of those games where, when the Red Sox finally woke their bats up their pitching was going to give it away. When Devers drove Moreland in with a single in the fifth, it seemed like a case of too little, too late and I was expecting another brutal loss for the Sox. They kept chipping away, though, when JD hit a two run homer in the sixth to make it a 10-8 game. For as bad as Boston's pitching was in this one, Seattle's was equally putrid. Maybe they could actually pull this off? Xander Bogaerts followed JD's homer later in the inning with a single to drive in Moreland and cut the lead to a single run. Benintendi tied the game in the seventh with an RBI single and JD followed up with a two-RBI single to finally put the Sox ahead for good. They finished off the scoring when Benintendi scored from third on a wild pitch and Eduardo Nunez followed up with an RBI, bringing in JD with a single. The final score was 14-10 in one of the wildest back-and-forth games I've seen in a long time!

There's not too much to write home about regarding Steven Wright last night. As with all knuckleballers, he was due for a bad start after how good he'd been. He went 3.1 innings, giving up ten runs on ten hits. However, the bullpen actually held down the fort, holding Seattle scoreless the remainder of the game and only allowing four hits (all off of Brian Johnson). Every single Red Sox player got at least a hit in this one, even Blake Swihart. JD Martinez had a monstrous 4-5 night with five RBI, although he fell a bit short of Seattle's Cruz who also went 4-5 and drove in seven. It was that kind of night. With the Yankees and Astros both losing, the Sox have the most wins in the league at 51 and are now only a game behind New York in the AL East. I hope that the Sox can win with a little less drama during these last two games against the Mariners, but as long as the end result is a victory I won't care. I'm just not sure I can take so much drama again so soon after this one!

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