The Mariners played fifteen innings today and lost. It hurt. A lot.
Iwakuma pitched gritty, fighting through two bases-loaded jams in the first and continuous tight situations throughout his 5 2/3 innings. He gave up two un-earned runs.
Fighting back throughout the game, the Mariners tied it up in the 7th on a Kyle Seager solo home run. That made the game 4-4. It would remain that way until the 15th inning.
In extras both teams had a number of scoring (and for the Red Sox game-winning) opportunities. Most notably for the Sox in the 14th inning. With 1-out and a man on 3rd, all Shane Victorino had to do was to put a ball slowly into play or hit one deep enough for a game-winning sac-fly.
He put one in the air.
Michael Saunders, who had replaced Ackley in CF after Ackley moved to 1B in a carousel of defensive substitutions, camped slightly behind the fly ball to get all of his weight behind a throw. And boy can Saunders throw.
With all his might and Canadian muscle, Saunders zinged a ball to Quintero (yes, that’s one of our catchers now) at home plate, beating the runner and giving Quintero to protect the plate in an awkward standing position.
But alas the game went on, and the Mariners were prepared to take advantage in the 15th.
Tw0 one-out singles by Ibanez and Endy Chavez put men on first and second. Saunders to bat, looking to become twice the hero.
Saunders hit a sinking liner to left, and miraculously Jonny Gomes, who pinch-hit earlier in the game, caught it about an inch from the grass. And, resplendent with tough breaks, Rauuuuul was already rounding third when the ball was caught. So Gomes trotted in from left field to score himself an unassisted double play.
Then in the 15th things came unhinged for Lucas Luetege, a guy who has been struggling all season and who threw over 40 pitches in his outing tonight. With the bases loaded and two-outs, Stephen Drew hit a liner that JUST barely touched the 1st base line. Pedroia scored from 3rd, and that was the ball game.
A bit by the numbers:
4 Runs, 16 Hits, 2 Errors. 12 strikes and 12 LOB. Nick Franklin, currently a leader in the AL Rookie of the Year numbers, went 0-7 with a Golden Sombrero (4 K’s).
This game was the Mariners’ to win, and it would have been a character win for the boys in grey tonight.
However tomorrow will be more indicative of the Mariners new character. With King Felix on the mound, anything is possible.
But, as time and time again of late, these young studs for the Mariners will find a way to grit out a W.
Tough to Swallow tonight. But with all the excitement in recent weeks, it’s ok to lose one that hurts a little bit more than all the rest.