Red Sox center fielder Enrique Hernández spiked his cleats into the right-handed batter's box to start off the game, something he’s done for most of the season, but today was different. On his back, a blue-trimmed 21 proudly displayed. The games today throughout Major League Baseball are played in the memory of Roberto Clemente. Especially for a man from Puerto Rico like Hernández, Clemente was a hero. Clemente is a hero to us all, and the only true shame today was that more players weren’t joining in with the likes of Hernández and pitcher, Nate Eovaldi in wearing “21.” Articles, upon articles, can be, and have been, written about the importance of Roberto Clemente to the game of baseball. Clemente was more than just a player. He was a man that died in service to other human beings. We should all strive to be like Clemente, and Major League Baseball needs to retire “21” league-wide.
Meanwhile, once the action got underway, Tanner Houck toed the rubber this afternoon in his eleventh start of the 2021 season. This start went, for the most part, just like how any other Tanner Houck start has gone in the past. Houck pitched a perfect two innings to start, and he was economical, and downright nasty.
Trouble began in the bottom of the third, after a sharp line drive single by Jarred Kelenic. The third inning was not, however, entirely the fault of Houck. After giving up the single to Kelenic, Tom Murphy followed up with a single to right field, and Hunter Renfore picked up right where the defense left off with yet another error. He made an ill-advised throw that got past Rafael Devers, and as a result Kelenic was able to score.
Houck began to get a little wild after that, walking J.P. Crawford, and throwing a wild pitch which allowed the runners to second and third. Kyle Seager then doubled in two more to give Seattle three runs. Houck ended the inning with a strikeout of Ty France, and his final line on the day was 4 1⁄3 innings, four hits, three earned runs, one walk and seven strikeouts.
The score might seem a little lopsided, but it was tied from the third inning until the offensive explosion in the top of the 10th inning. Hunter Renfore, batting second against left-handed starter Marcos Gonzales, blasted a home run to center to give the Red Sox the early 1-0 lead. Kyle Schwarber then walked in the second inning beforeBobby Dalbec hit a ground rule double to center on a poor route by Seattle left fielder, Jake Fraley. Schwarber would score on a grounder to first off the bat of Kevin Plawecki, and then José Iglesias doubled in Dalbec, to give the Sox what at the time was a 3-0 lead. That was it for scoring from the Boston until the top of the tenth.
The Red Sox entered that top of the tenth inning all tied up at three, with Jack López starting the inning at second base. Alex Verdugo came through with a single to get López to third base. When catcher Tom Murphy couldn’t come up with the high pitch for a passed ball, López came in score the go ahead run.
From there, Boston poured it on. Renfroe walked, and then Xander Bogaerts, after a frustrating day at the plate, singled on a fly ball to center field. That brought Justus Sheffield enters the game, relieving Erik Swanson with the bases loaded and nobody out. J.D. Martinez came through with another hit to bring in Renfroe, making it 5-3 Red Sox. The Red Sox just continued to pile up baserunners from there, eventually scoring six in the 10th to open a huge lead.
The bullpen for the Red Sox was nails on the day. Josh Taylor, Garrett Richards, Austin Davis, Adam Ottavino and Martín Pérez combined for zero earned runs after relieving Houck in the fifth inning. The only run given up was the phantom runner that scored off Pérez in the bottom of the tenth inning when the game was finally out of hand.
The Red Sox finally won a series in Seattle, the first time they’ve done so since 2013. Winning series moving forward for the Red Sox should be the ultimate goal. If the Red Sox do not lose a series in the final five, the team will end the season with 93 wins, and 93 wins should be enough get them a Wild Card spot. If nothing else, it should be a win total the team, ownership, front office and fans are proud of seeing achieved.
They’ll have a day off on Thursday before heading home for a three-game series at Fenway against the Rays.