After scoring seven runs off of the defending American League Cy Young Award winner in Felix Hernandez, the Boston Red Sox looked to get to Mariner pitching again as they took on young Blake Beavan this evening. Beavan faced a challenge as he was going up against a candidate for this year's Cy Young in Josh Beckett.
What seemed to be a huge mismatch in the Red Sox favor on paper was actually for not. We had ourselves a good ole' fashioned pitchers duel this evening at Fenway Park.
Through the first six innings of the ballgame, both pitchers seemed to be cruising. Though six, Josh Beckett held the Mariners in check as he only allowed five hits though six shutout innings. Beavan, meanwhile matched Beckett pitch by pitch, as he too had a shutout going through six innings as he only allowed six hits to the Red Sox.
We arrive to the top of the seventh inning, still a scoreless game. With no offense in sight, Josh Beckett had to continue to do his part and hope for offense. However on a 3-2 count, Beckett served up a 91 mph cutter to Mike Carp (who?), who drilled it into the right field bullpen to give the Mariners the 1-0 lead. Though Beckett got out of the inning with just the one run to his name, the offense still had to find a way to solve young Blake Beavan.
In the bottom of the frame, the Red Sox made two fairly quick outs via a Carl Crawford strikeout and a Josh Reddick flyout. The offense then started to show up. Jason Varitek came though with two outs with a single to get on base. Then something you don't see everyday; Marco Scutaro reached base on a ground rule double that moved Varitek to third. Two men in scoring position for arguably the Red Sox MVP the past few weeks, Jacoby Ellsbury.
On a 1-2 count, Ellsbury connected on a two-out RBI single off Beavan that brought home both Varitek and Scutaro home. The Red Sox finally got to Blake Beavan, whose night ended after the Ellsbury hit. They added another run in the inning off an Aaron Laffey wild pitch that scored than none other than Jacoby Ellsbury. 3-1 Sox heading into the eighth.
Daniel Bard nearly gave the Mariners the game back, as he allowed three straight Mariners to reach base in the eighth inning with no one out. With the bases loaded, Bard pulled a Papelbon (who has a flair for the dramatic) and retired Jack Cust, Franklin Guiterrez, and the dangerous Mike Carp to end the innings and get out of a jam. Jonathan Papelbon came into the ninth inning and didn't pull a Papelbon, as he cruised through the ninth inning and preserved the 3-1 Red Sox victory.
The game had a little bit of history tied to it as well. In the bottom of the first inning, Dustin Pedroia cracked a double down the left field line to extend his masterful hitting streak to 20 games. Also with tonight's win, manager Terry Francona earned his 1,000 career win as a major league manager. Congrats, Tito, well deserved. With the loss, the Mariners have dropped fourteen consecutive decisions. I imagine a few folks are getting sleepless out there in Seattle.
The Red Sox will go for the sweep tomorrow with Tim Wakefield on the mound, who will be looking for career win number 199 against AL rookie of the year candidate Michael Pineda of the Mariners. First pitch scheduled for 1:35 p.m. at Fenway Park.