Matt Harvey was night untouchable Friday night, but the Red Sox worked their way past him and into a vulnerable Mets bullpen to secure a 6-4 win in extra innings.
Before the bullpens ever got into the mix, this game was a scoreless duel between Harvey and Boston's starter, Henry Owens. Five games into his career, we've seen three different versions of Owens take the mound. The first is the best. In control throughout, effective, the type of pitcher that Red Sox fans dreamed of as he made his way through the minors. The second is a flashy mess, who piles up strikeouts while offering up homer after homer. The third is...well, it's the one we got tonight. Out of control on the mound, but somehow, not on the scoreboard.
The third is what we got Friday against the Mets. It would be wrong to say Owens was completely out of control. He actually threw a decent portion of his pitches for strikes, but for extended periods of time he would just lose the zone. So, while the Mets weren't exactly hitting him hard, the pitch count kept getting higher and higher, promising a short night in terms of innings.
Still, if Owens didn't last too long, he made good use of what he had. The Mets couldn't push across a run until the fourth, and strangely enough when they finally did, that run didn't involve any of Owens' four walks on the night. Instead, it was a quick sequence of a Wilmer Flores double and Travis d'Arnaud single, both with one out, that put the Mets on the board. They would get to Owens again in the fifth, but only when Rusney Castillo let a ground ball to right get under his glove, allowing David Wright to score all the way from first.
To that point, Matt Harvey had kept the Red Sox in check, but the Sox managed to get his pitch count up over 100 after just six innings, bringing Logan Verrett into the game on what proved to not be his night at all. David Ortiz crushed his first pitch of the night into left-center field for a solo shot, bringing the DH even with Lou Gehrig and Fred McGriff with 493 career homers. Verrett battled back by retiring Brock Holt and Rusney Castillo, but Blake Swihart pushed a ground ball into right to bring Jackie Bradley Jr. to the plate. Verrett delivered a 2-2 slider that stayed too high, and for the second time in the inning watched a long fly ball make its way over the wall in left-center, this time good for two runs and a 3-2 lead.
The Mets, of course, were not the only team in the park with a struggling bullpen. In the bottom of the inning, Alexei Ogando proved completely incapable of finding the zone, loading the bases on two walks and a single before bringing the tying run in to score on yet another free pass.Jean Machi managed to end the frame after that and, along with Tommy Layne, send the game into extra innings.
There, the Red Sox did not have to wait long for results. Blake Swihart hammered the first pitch of the tenth to dead-away center, off the wall and past Juan Lagares in center on the ricochet. With the ball making its way back into shallow center, Swihart rounded third, and headed home, scoring with surprising ease on an inside-the-park homer to make it 4-3. The Sox didn't leave it there, either, with Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts reaching base behind him to set up a sacrifice fly and RBI single from Josh Rutledge and Xander Bogaerts respectively.
It's a good thing they kept pushing, too, as Junichi Tazawa once again struggled to close out the game cleanly. Even with a double play erasing a leadoff single, Tazawa gave up three straight walks to load the bases, and then a fourth to bring in a run in a stunningly bad appearance that forced Torey Lovullo to go to Craig Breslow of all people to put out the fire. Thankfully, Breslow responded to the challenge by getting Yoenis Cespedes to fly out and end the game once and for all.D