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Red Sox 5, Mariners 3: Walking home with the W

Drawing walks is fun. Winning is even more fun. The Red Sox did both today.

MLB: Seattle Mariners at Boston Red Sox David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

For the final game of the Red Sox-Mariners series, and the final game of the longest homestand of the season, we were treated to a matchup between Eduardo Rodriguez of the Red Sox and Nick Margevicius of the Mariners. Worth noting that Margevicius left his previous game early (after 78 pitches in the 4th inning) with arm fatigue. Margevicius has also failed to pitch beyond four innings in any of his outings thus far this season.

Unfortunately, the Sox started from behind once more, as a Mitch Haniger double to lead off the game, led to a Ty France RBI double. Rodriguez limited the damage to that, but it’s becoming exhausting trying to find new ways to point out that the Red Sox have struggled in the first inning of ball games. In 13 of their 23 games, the Red Sox have allowed a run in the first inning.

The Red Sox had a little first inning heroics of their own, however, as Enrique Hernández started things with a leadoff single, and Rafael Devers obliged with a walk, to set things up for J.D. Martinez. He also walked, to load the bases, with no outs. Xander Bogaerts struck out, leaving Christian Vázquez as the man of the hour. He drove it to right, with a slap single, and kept the conga-line moving. As a consequence, he tied the game. Margevicius walked in a run with a walk of Hunter Renfroe. Then he walked in Marwin Gonzalez, which brought in another run. After giving up 3 runs, loading the bases, and getting a grand total of one out, Mariners manager Scott Servais had seen enough. The day was over for Margevicius.

MLB: Seattle Mariners at Boston Red Sox David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The new pitcher would be Drew Steckenrider, who came in, and hit Christian Arroyo on his hand. Another run scored. Bobby Dalbec grounded into a double play to end the fun, but not before the Red Sox took a 4-1 lead.

Steckenrider’s control wasn’t much better than Margevicius, who walked Enrique Hernández and Rafael Devers to lead off the second inning. Bogaerts laced a double into left to score a run (making it 5-1). Devers was caught between third and home and Bogaerts advanced to third on the play, but this proved to be a mistake, as a sac fly to deep CF could have scored a runner from third, with just the one out in the inning.

Eduardo Rodriguez pitched well after the first-inning woes. Until the 5th, nobody else was able to get anything significant off of him. Sam Haggerty singled to shortstop, on a play that Bobby Dalbec probably should have picked at first base, and it ended up costing the Sox, as Tom Murphy fired a laser down the third base line that Devers deflected, and ended up on second for his efforts. On the play, Haggerty scored from first. Then J.P. Crawford mirrored Murphy and swung way out of the zone to bring a ball down the first base line. The result was an RBI double. Despite terrible luck, Rodriguez was able to escape the inning with a 5-3 lead.

The next several innings were fairly pedestrian, with neither side making much in the way of a threat to the other. The Mariners cycled through a few more relievers, who had significantly better control than the first two to grace the mound for them, and the Red Sox just cruised with Eduardo Rodriguez, who finished with a line of seven innings, six hits allowed, three earned runs, and eight strikeouts. All things considered, he was bit by terrible luck, and still managed to emerge looking like the staff ace in lieu of Chris Sale.

Adam Ottavino relieved Rodriguez for the 8th, and pitched a scoreless inning, largely behind the great defensive play of Marwin Gonzalez, shortstop. I’ve shared an embed of the video of said play below, because words aren’t going to do it justice. Gonzalez has been much maligned among Red Sox fans at times, but plays like this will quiet dissidents a touch.

The 9th inning was pitched by none other than Matt Barnes. Is there really anything else that needs to be said about Barnes this season? His uncharacteristic performance in the non-save situation the other night notwithstanding, Barnes has been among the most excellent, if not the most excellent reliever in the big leagues this year. What I’m trying to say is there wasn’t any competition for him in this one as he sat down the order 1-2-3 to end the game, propelling the Red Sox to a 14-9 record.

The Red Sox have an off-day on Monday, before taking to the road on Tuesday to face the New York Mets for a two-game jaunt. All things told, you’ll take the Red Sox leading the AL East by two games (1.5 if the Rays manage a comeback in their own game presently in the 8th inning, 2.5 if the Rays don’t).