Coming off a long road trip in which they averaged 4.2 runs scored per game, the Red Sox opened up a three-game weekend series against the Seattle Mariners in eventful fashion last night. The weirdest part of this game was that Steven Wright had his worst start of the season and they still found a way to win.
Having just gotten swept by the Yankees in New York, the Mariners came into Boston looking to get off to a quick start offensively. And with Steven Wright on the mound making his fourth start of the season on Friday, they did just that.
Yup, the knuckleballer, who in his last time out against the Mariners this past Saturday tossed seven one run innings in a losing effort, got rocked for the first time this season. Right from the get go, the Mariners were on top of Wright and his knuckleball, as they pounced for four runs in the first on two home runs, two in the second, and four again in the fourth with another home run mixed in there before the righty departed with two outs in the inning.
In those 4.2 frames of work, Wright got hit ten times for TEN earned runs. For the Mariners, Nelson Cruz was the main enforcer here. Old friend Denard Span was once again a bit of a headache, but by the time this thing reached the middle of the fourth inning, Cruz had already driven in SEVEN of his teams 10 runs, six of which came on two moon shots off of Wright.
The life of a knuckleballer, huh? One start you look like a magician, the next you look like absolute trash. Steven Wright’s ERA inflated from 1.23 all the way up to 3.38 after this stinker of a start, but he would not be pinned with the losing decision.
Nope, thanks to 5.2 scoreless frames of relief from the Red Sox bullpen and an explosion of runs from the lineup, the California native did not factor into the decision. Finishing with 59 pitches on the evening, Wright went to his knuckler 54 times and only got 4 swings and missed out of it. He’ll look to rebound next time out against the LA Angels on Thursday.
As I just mentioned, the Red Sox bullpen was nails last night. Starting in the top half of the fifth with two outs and a five run deficit, Brian Johnson, Matt Barnes, Joe Kelly, and Craig Kimbrel combined to toss over five shutdown innings while holding the Mariners to four hits and one walk.
For Barnes, this was his second straight scoreless appearance since giving up two runs in Seattle last Friday night. He struck out the side in the seventh. And for Kimbrel, who had not made an appearance since June 14th, he struck out one while tossing a scoreless ninth inning to wrap this crazy game up.
On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup went off for the second day in a row. They tallied nine runs in Minnesota on Thursday, and they added on that by plating 14 runs on 20 hits last night. Eight players finished the game with at least one run driven in. Let’s get to it.
Already trailing by four runs in the bottom of the first, the Red Sox made the most of their first at bats in this one.
Facing off against a pitcher who had just shut them out less than a week ago in M’s righty Wade LeBlanc, the top of the lineup got things started right away by recording four straight hits. Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi set the table by hitting back to back singles, and JD Martinez and Mitch Moreland followed that up with a pair of RBI knocks to make it a 4-2 game.
Two batters later, a Brock Holt RBI single, a Rafael Devers RBI groundout, and a Christian Vazquez RBI double plated another three runs, and just like that, the Red Sox were up by a run going into the second inning.
Fast forward all the way to the fifth, after the Mariners had gone up big again, Devers came through by cutting the Red Sox deficit to four with another RBI, this one coming on a single to score Mitch Moreland from third, making it a 10-6 ballgame.
An inning later is where things got really interesting. Similar to Thursday, when the Red Sox scored seven of their nine runs over the last three innings in Minnesota, they struck for eight runs in their last three innings with at bats on Friday as well.
Starting in the sixth, with LeBlanc now out of the contest and Mariners reliever Nick Vincent in, a two out walk of Andrew Benintendi led to another pitching change. So with James Pazos in the game now and Benintendi over at first, JD Martinez ended his homerless streak of at bats at 30 by mashing a 427 foot two-run shot to dead center. His 23rd big fly of the season.
The third run of the inning came around to score when Xander Bogaerts drove in Mitch Moreland on another RBI single to make it a one run game going into the seventh.
Trailing by one run now, two singles from Rafael Devers and a Mookie Betts walk loaded the bases for Andrew Benintendi. With Juan Nicasio on the mound for the Mariners, Benintendi ripped his second hit of the day, a single, to score Devers from third to tie the game and reload the bases for JD Martinez. With three hits on the day already, the Red Sox slugger collected his fourth and fifth RBI of the night by grounding a single up the middle to score Swihart and Betts. 12-10.
Two batters later, with Eduardo Nunez in the game pinch-hitting for Xander Bogaerts, two straight wild pitches from new pitcher Nick Rumbelow allowed Andrew Benintendi to score from third and allowed JD Martinez to advance from second to third.
To cap off a wild night of scoring, Eduardo Nunez collected his 17th RBI of the season by lining a single to center field to drive in Martinez for his teams 14th run of the night. That’s all the support the bullpen would need to secure win number 51.
Some notes from this W:
14 runs tied a season-high for the Red Sox. The only time they have scored as many runs this season came back on April 10th against the Yankees. The 20 hits did mark a new season-high.
Xander Bogaerts had to leave this game in the seventh inning after spraining his left index finger on an awkward slide into second base on a swiped bag in the sixth. He will not be in the lineup tonight.
After only hitting one home run and driving in one run on the road trip, JD Martinez came through with FIVE RBI on four hits last night.
Everyone in the Red Sox lineup, including Eduardo Nunez, reached base at least once. In total, the Red Sox went 20/43 with one home run and 13 RBI last night.
Looking to pick up the series win later tonight, it will be Eduardo Rodriguez making the start for Boston. He’ll be matched up against Mariners righty Mike Leake in the same pitching matchup we saw this past Sunday. The Red Sox had their way with Leake in that one, and they’ll look to do the same on Saturday. Going for his team-leading 10th winning decision of the season, Rodriguez owns a career 2.66 ERA in four starts against Seattle. With that in mind, first pitch of the middle game is scheduled for 7:15 PM ET on FOX.