This is a game--a day, in fact--that will not be forgotten for a long, long time.
The Red Sox were not exactly supposed to win this. Sending Ryan Dempster to the mound against Felix Hernandez, backed up by a lineup worn down by a fifteen-inning marathon from the night before? This was not the smartest night to be betting on Boston.
And, sure enough, for eight long innings this game went about as well as expected. Felix Hernandez was Felix Hernandez, holding the Red Sox to a single run on a sacrifice fly over seven dominant innings. Ryan Dempster was, unfortunately, the Ryan Dempster who is showing up too often of late, a poor combination of wild and hittable. While he managed to keep things under control for four innings, it all fell apart in the fifth when Henry Blanco hit just his second home run of the 2013 season--a grand slam over everything in left.
With the Mariners up 7-1 and Felix going strong, all that was left was for the Mariners to mop up.
But the Red Sox did manage to get Felix out of the game after seven with 107 pitches, and Shane Victorino took a violent hack in the eighth, launching a solo shot in the Monster seats. it was innocuous enough at the time, but perhaps the homer was a sign: these Red Sox weren't quite ready to pack it in.
And then...the ninth.
The Mariners remained stuck on seven runs thanks to a combination of Mariner-killer Steven Wright and the weirdly highlight-prone Jonny Gomes, who gunned down a runner in the top of the ninth before slamming into the scoreboard to make the final out of the inning. Still, with a five-run lead and just three outs to go, the Mariners' chances to win stood at an incredible 99.4%. The Red Sox did not get the memo.
It started with a Daniel Nava walk. Then a Ryan Lavarnway single, and a Brock Holt double to bring Nava around to score. Suddenly, with no outs on the board, the Red Sox had the tying run on deck, prompting a visit at the mound. Whatever advice Wilhelmsen got, it certainly didn't help, as Jacoby Ellsbury drew a five-pitch walk to load the bases.
Up came Shane Victorino, and away went Tom Wilhemsen, bringing in...the left-handed Oliver Perez. Interim manager Robby Thompson had signaled with the wrong arm, and the umpires enforced the signal, leaving Victorino hitting from his stronger side. A ground ball through the woeful Seattle infield later, and it was 7-5, and Dustin Pedroia followed suit with a low line drive to left to make it 7-6.
With the comeback clearly on, David Ortiz seemed the likely man to finish the job. Instead, Perez needed just three pitches to sit him down, swinging at strikes two and three. The reprieve was short-lived. Working a long at bat, the defensive hero of the top of the ninth, Jonny Gomes, reached across the plate and slapped a fastball up the middle and into the outfield. 7-7, tie game.
By this point, with the game tied and the winning run in scoring position, the question was not if, but how the Red Sox were going to win this. Would Stephen Drew get his second walkoff in two days? No, instead he brought the Red Sox just a fly ball away by drawing a walk off of Yoervis Medina. That left Daniel Nava. Just about any decent ball in play would do the job, but the man who started the rally with a walk finished it with a bang. Swinging at the first pitch, Nava hit a long fly ball which would have been easily deep enough to score Dustin Pedroia from third had it been caught rather than catching the wall in center, just short of a grand slam.
Worth one run or four, though, it was all the same to the Sox. The second walkoff of August 1st, somehow even more dramatic than the first, was complete.
Read more Red Sox:
- Jake Peavy changes rotation, bullpen now and later
- With Jose Iglesias gone, will the Red Sox look to re-sign Stephen Drew?
- Should the Red Sox call up top prospect Xander Bogaerts?
- The complicated left side of the Red Sox infield
- Why do we obsess over the trade deadline?