Nothing good ever happens after 2 A.M., so it's really fortunate the Red Sox managed to squeeze this one in with a few minutes to spare.
For the fans in Boston, this game offered no reprieve from all the recent problems that have beset the Red Sox. There was just a remarkable amount of squander going on at the plate tonight, right from the first inning. The Sox would load the bases with just the one out for Jackie Bradley Jr. and Aaron Hill. With a chance to at least get on the board with any sort of decent contact, Bradley went down without making contact (a consistent problem for him tonight), leaving Hill to record the final out with a weak fly ball to right.
Perhaps realizing there would be little chance to score if he relied on the rest of the lineup to bring him in, Travis Shaw decided to take matters into his own hands to lead off the second. He's been struggling of late, but produced one of those explosive swings even against the lefty Miranda, launching a no-doubter to right to give the Sox the first run of the game. A rare hit with a runner in scoring position would give them the second as well, with Bryce Brentz and Mookie Betts leading off the fifth with back-to-back doubles.
By that point the Red Sox had wasted another paid of baserunners one way or another, bringing their total to five after five. But they really didn't have much of anything on the Mariners in that department. Drew Pomeranz was showing off all his flaws and features in equal measure, giving away free bases, and then making up for it by painting strikes when he needed them. He even went so far as to walk the bases loaded in the fourth without letting any runs come in to score.
Honestly, it's more than a little strange, then, that his shutout actually came to an end not on a sustained rally, but on a home run, with Shawn O'Malley ambushing a first-pitch changeup to start the fifth inning. But they would manage the longer form run in that very same inning, taking advantage of a bunt single (which ended with Dustin Pedroia toppling over Pomeranz) with a two-out base hit to tie the game.
Pomeranz would manage a quick sixth to end his night on a positive note, leaving the game up to the bullpens. And here's where things got especially frustrating. The Red Sox turned to Robbie Ross Jr., Junichi Tazawa, and Fernando Abad, three solid relief pitchers with Ross' 3.89 ERA the highest among them. Abad would end up getting into some trouble in the ninth, leading John Farrell to turn to his closer in a tie game, but Kimbrel showed none of the non-save struggles we've seen from him before, quickly getting a ground ball from Robinson Cano to end the frame.
The Mariners, on the other hand, turned to Drew Storen, Vidal Nuno, and Tom Wilhelmsen. Of the three, only Nuno boasts an ERA under six! And against such stiff competition the Red Sox certainly managed a few baserunners, but produced no runs, with Travis Shaw grounding out to end the eighth with two men on, and Mookie Betts grounding into a double play after Brock Holt gave them some life in the ninth with a one-out walk.
With the game headed to extra innings, the Mariners called on Triple-A arm Blake Parker for his first major league inning since 2014. And again, the Sox managed some baserunners, threatening with a quick two-out rally that ended with an Aaron Hill ground out to third (while Andrew Benintendi languished unused on the bench even against a RHP). Kimbrel returned for the tenth, and sat the Mariners down 1-2-3, all by way of the K, leaving the Mariners to turn to yet another Triple-A call-up in Cody Martin.
Finally, this sketchy reliever would be the one that blinked. It was not the loudest of rallies--simply a pair of well-placed ground balls from Travis Shaw and Brock Holt with a sacrifice bunt from Sandy Leon in between--but it was enough to make it a 3-2 lead for the Sox. The Mariners would attempt to replicate the rally in the bottom of the frame, with Leonys Martin bunting Mike Zunino along after a leadoff walk, but he did so in front of two of the weakest hitters in the lineup, and even a pinch-hitting Seth Smith could save the plan, swinging over a nasty curveball that met Leon's glove in the dirt to end the game.
Well, they got the win. And with the way things are going, that's what's really more important than anything else. But with seventeen baserunners, they really need to score more than just the three runs. They can't waste that many opportunities and expect to continue winning going forward. And man, if Pomeranz could not walk six men in any more games? That'd be great.
Take the good--the win, the low run total against--and fix the bad against the Dodgers to at least end this west coast trip headed in the right direction.