The Red Sox scratched, clawed and knuckled their way to a 10-inning win over the Mariners on Thursday.
The Mariners jumped on Ryan Dempster early and often. They built a 5-1 lead through three innings and held a 7-4 lead after four innings. The Red Sox kept battling, though, and the end result was a textbook team victory.
The Red Sox have shown a flair for the dramatic this season, but they’ve also shown an ability to grind out wins, which is exactly what they were forced to do Thursday. With Dempster unable to settle into a groove, the Red Sox needed to play catch-up on multiple occasions, and they did so successfully by exhibiting their usual patience, poise and resilience.
The opportunistic Red Sox posted three runs with two outs in the fourth inning to jump back into the game after Seattle had seized control early on. Mariners starter Erasmo Ramirez suffered a brief lapse in control, walking David Ortiz and plunking Mike Carp, and the Red Sox made him pay with three straight RBI singles. Brock Holt, Jose Iglesias and Jacoby Ellsbury did the damage.
The Mariners responded with two runs of their own in the bottom of the fourth inning, but a big play by Dustin Pedroia minimized the damage and shifted some momentum back in Boston’s favor. Justin Smoak, batting with runners on second and third with one out, smoked a ground ball right at Pedroia, who was playing in on the edge of the grass. Pedroia, who is as sure-handed as it gets at second base, scooped the hot shot on a bounce, looked the runner back at third base and tossed to first for the second out of the inning. Steven Wright got out of the inning by striking out Mike Zunino.
The Red Sox offense went back to work after Seattle’s two-run inning, posting three runs in the fifth to tie the game at seven apiece. The bottom of the Boston order once again came up huge, as Holt and Iglesias struck back-to-back, two-out RBI singles to pull the Sox even.
At that point, the Red Sox found themselves in need of a shutdown inning, and Wright stepped up. The right-hander countered the Mariners’ solid bullpen work with 5 2/3 scoreless frames. Equipped with a fluttering knuckleball, Wright allowed just three hits after coming on in relief of Dempster, and he eventually gained his first major league win.
Boston’s 10th inning rally was very Red Sox-esque. Ryan Lavarnway worked a 10-pitch walk to lead off the extra frames, and he was then lifted for a pinch runner in Jackie Bradley Jr., who advanced to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Holt. Mariners closer Tom Wilhelmsen nearly escaped the jam, but Nava, who had been 0-for-5 to that point, drove a two-out, two-strike single into center field to give the Red Sox an 8-7 edge.
Koji Uehara, who lost out in the MLB.com All-Star Game Final Vote on Thursday, capped the hard-fought victory with a 1-2-3 ninth inning.
The Red Sox received contributions from nearly everyone who stepped onto the field while winning their third straight against the Mariners. It’s not the first time that such has happened, and it certainly won’t be the last time.
Some wins come more easily than others. There was nothing easy about Thursday’s 10-inning victory in the series finale.