Final score: Red Sox 2, Mariners 1
There is little more exciting than bonus baseball. Aside from your perfect games, your no-hitters, your best cleanup hitter arriving with the bases loaded and two outs, watching a game roll into extra innings keeps you on the edge of your seat for each at-bat.
The Mariners battled with the Red Sox for this series, going back and forth with Felix’s 13-strikeout complete game, a 4-home run parade by the Sox, and a Chone Figgins walkoff sac fly in an 11th inning rally. Tonight, they dragged a 1-1 game into 10 innings, finally surrendering on a sac fly by David Ortiz.
Part of me wants to rejoice that the Mariners held their own against a team not currently scraping the bottom of any MLB division. Part of me is excited that the Red Sox had to fight for this series in the first place, even with Erasmo Ramirez’s elbow injury and Franklin Gutierrez’s face getting smashed on a pickoff throw to first. And then part of me remembers tonight’s game and is reminded why the Mariners are only headed as far as third place in the AL West this season.
First, the positives. Jason Vargas crafted his strongest start since the beginning of May, lasting 8 innings with 5 hits, an earned run, 2 walks, and 6 strikeouts. After seven scoreless innings, he lost his shutout bid on a 1-0 fastball to Dustin Pedroia. Tom Wilhelmsen boosted his streak to 18.2 innings without allowing a run, closing the door with a Kelly Shoppach strikeout to end the 9th.
And then Brandon League happened.
In the 10th, League needed just four pitches to put runners at the corners. Lucas Luetge entered with one out and promptly induced a fly ball from David Ortiz, handing League a loss to set next to his blown save from Boston’s Friday night shutout.
And then the offense happened; or rather, didn’t happen.
I realize that it’s a tired bit. The Mariners’ offense has been lackluster at best, spreading 20 hits and 5 runs over 39 innings. Still, with the 7 walks graciously handed to the team tonight, it’s not unreasonable to believe they could have made more of their opportunities. In 30 at-bats, they hacked at first pitches 10 times for 5 outs. Jesus Montero stranded 6 runners and induced the last out in 4 separate innings. With a mere one-run deficit to overcome, the Mariners saw just 5 pitches from Alfredo Aceves in the 10th.
Tomorrow, the Orioles arrive to close out the last homestand before the All-Star break. Because I can’t think of anything positive to say about that match-up, I’ll end this wrap with a hearty congratulations to Felix Hernandez, who was named an American League All-Star this morning and has announced his intention of appearing in the game next Tuesday.
Next game: vs. Orioles | July 2 | 7:10pm