It took five hours, fifteen innings, and six pitchers to get the job done, but the Red Sox are back in first place after outlasting the Mariners in one marathon of a game.
Said marathon could have been pre-empted as early as the first, had things gone just a little differently. With the first three Red Sox batters of the game hitting line drives off Hisashi Iwakuma, it looked like a rout in the making for Boston. But even the best hitters can have terrible at bats, and that's what happened with David Ortiz, who tapped a ground ball back to Iwakuma, who flipped it home to start a 1-2-3 double play. The Sox would reload the bases with a walk from Mike Napoli, but Jarrod Saltalamacchia's screaming liner found Michael Morse's glove at first, ending the inning in tremendously disappointing fashion.
With the Red Sox having missed a chance to jump on top early, it would be the Mariners who got on the board first, courtesy of a first inning double down the left field line that scored Kyle Seager to make it 1-0, Mariners. That lead would not last terribly long. If the Red Sox had been the victims of poor placement in the first--at least with Jarrod Saltalamacchia's at bat--they made up for it somewhat with a bit of perfect placement in the fifth. With Jacoby Ellsbury at first and Brock Holt at third, Shane Victorino hit a hard shot to the right side of the infield, right at Ellsbury. While the center fielder was able to avoid contact with the ball, he still got in the way long enough to bother Nick Franklin, who couldn't make the play. Holt scored, Ellsbury moved to third, and one Dustin Pedroia ground out later, the Sox were up 2-1.
And then a series of ground balls later, it was 3-2 in favor of Seattle. John Lackey pitched well again, striking out six and walking one, but sometimes all it takes is to have the ground balls get through at the right time. Lackey would close out the top of the seventh, however, turning in another strong start, even if it was not up to his usual quality ERA-wise.
The seesawing would continue in the bottom of the seventh courtesy of Dustin Pedroia, who as per usual has decided to respond to a cold streak by going on a tear. Just as he'd done the day before, Pedroia took a fastball with a runner on and sent it high and deep to left for a two-run shot, this time clearing the Monster entirely.
But of course, to make it to extra innings, the Mariners had to come back to tie it, and they did that against Junichi Tazawa, with Kyle Seager smashing a long drive past the bullpens to make it four-all.
And from there, the zeroes started. The first couple of innings wouldn't be so bad, with Koji Uehara keeping the Mariners quiet, but there were tense moments to be had in the eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth courtesy of Matt Thornton and Craig Breslow.
Still, the Sox managed to escape each frame without giving up a run, leading ultimately to the bottom of the fourteenth, where the game should have ended. But, despite a leadoff double from Brandon Snyder (achieved with a head-first dive into second) and successful sacrifice from Jacoby Ellsbury, the Sox still couldn't finish things. A medium-depth fly ball from Shane Victorino probably should have been enough, but Michael Saunders made a very strong throw home, and Brandon Snyder made no attempt to slide around the tag coming from in front of the plate, even perhaps going slightly into it. And just like that, the inning was over.
For all that the first fourteen innings had provided some ridiculous moments, the fifteenth would be the best yet. Allowing the second and third batters of the inning to reach base, Drake Britton found himself in serious trouble in the top of the frame. Jonny Gomes, however, was able to come in from left to slide in under a sinking liner from Michael Saunders, and with Raul Ibanez having committed to a dash home, Jonny Gomes headed all the way into second to complete an unassisted double play.
Yes, the left fielder.
With that taken care of, the Red Sox finally went about actually winning. Or, rather, of accepting the win courtesy of Lucas Luetge, who walked the bases loaded. With two down, Stephen Drew stepped up to the plate, got ahead 2-1 in the count, and finally, finally ended things, cleaning out an inside fastball and lining it just fair into right field. Dustin Pedroia scored, the Red Sox celebrated, and everyone else was finally allowed to sleep.
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