I was doing holiday food prep for about the first 5 innings or so, but since my friends’ kitchen is open to the living room, had no problem keeping track of the game. With the first 17 pitches Felix threw in the first inning, and the first two runs from Boston scored, I mentally settled in for a loss, back into the comfortable ooze of failure. It’s kind of like slipping into a hot tub full of warm Jell-O.
The error of one Boston fan’s ways was enough to change the game around. Some guy over the third baseline down front decided to go against the unspoken rule of fan participation, and jumped up to catch a foul ball off Ryan Langerhans’ bat, a foul ball that third baseman Kevin Youkilis could have easily caught, if the errant fan had not been in the way. Langerhans wound up with a double on the second of the next two pitches, and Rob Johnson followed him with another double, sending him home. Ronny Cedeno then showed up with a home run which I didn’t see because I was trying not to cut my finger off while chopping salad, but the score was 4-2. The Boston fans spent the better part of that inning chanting “It’s all your fault!” at the interfering fan; I have the feeling he’ll need personal escort out of the park after the game.
Felix was having problems with his pitch count, getting behind Sox hitters, and our fielding seemed a little shoddy tonight, just in general. It also didn’t help that the home plate umpire’s strike zone seemed to change with every at-bat. Both teams fought each other off during the 6th, and then JD Drew hit a shot over center field (way over) to level the playing field a little, 3-4. Felix looked vaguely amused, but I bet he wasn’t. Prior to that hit, I wondered if maybe he might try and pitch a full game, but they mentioned that Sean White was warming up, and Felix had surpassed 100 pitches at this point.
Jose Lopez started off the 8th inning by crushing one over the Monster’s left field, score 5-3. As he came home, he took a longer look at the sky than he does normally after a homer, acknowledging his brother and sister. Having a huge appreciation for my rather close-knit family, I very much approve of this ritual of giving props to one’s passed relatives. Very cool. That was the only progress we would make, however. Sean White took over for Felix in the bottom of the 8th, and promptly walked Jason Bay. Mark Kotsay got a hit towards Ichiro, and Wakamatsu came in to sub Shawn Kelley for Mr White. Kelley threw to Jacoby Ellsbury, who popped out to Langerhans in left for the second out. But Nick Green smashed one out over left, driving in two runs to tie the game. Kelley was able to secure the final out by getting the next Sox batter to pop up, and Rob Johnson was under it; but the damage had already been done.
The Red Sox reliever (I didn’t catch the name, I was temporarily distracted) went through our order easily enough, and then Chris Jakubauskus took the hill after what looked like a ridiculously fast warm-up in the pen. It didn’t seem to hurt him, however, as he rolled through the Sox easily to send the game into extras. Jonathan Papelbon entered the 10th, and got Branyan to pop up for the first out. Lopez stepped into the batter’s box and grounded to Nick Green, who couldn’t turn the play at first in time, one aboard. Papelbon threw a ball and a strike to Griffey, and then tried to pick off Lopez a few times, stalling. On the third pitch, Griff fouled off the plate/his ankle, advanced to first, halfway, then came back. Papelbon threw another ball, and Griffey struck out swinging – Sox catcher George Kottaras came out of the crouch fast enough to get the tag at second for the final out of the inning. Not our best show.
Jakabauskus remained in the 10th, despite the fact that Mark Lowe had been warming up earlier. His first batter was David Ortiz, and he struggled with it. Ortiz finally grounded to Cedeno, as did Bay. Jak dueled with Kotsay, who again grounded to Cedeno. Into the 11th, and a partly questionable batting lineup. Ramon Ramirez was the reliever for Papelbon, and Gutierrez was the batter. Gutz hit one up the middle for a single, and Langerhans came up to the plate. Langerhans walked. Chris Woodward I wasn’t expecting much of, but he bunted very effectively, advancing both runners, smiling as he trotted back to the dugout. Then, Rob Johnson; I was definitely not prepared what happened next. Johnson hit a low line drive over the first baseline, sending both runners in, and making it to second base. Red Sox Nation was a bit more quiet, as Cedeno struck out, and Ramirez took Ichiro’s bat away in an intentional walk. Branyan grounded to first for the final out of the inning, and Mark Lowe was finally sent in.
Jacoby Ellsbury was Lowe’s first batter. Lowe’s 5th pitch to him clocked in at 100MPH. I can’t remember the last time a Mariners pitcher hit 3 digits. Ellsbury flew out to right, and Ichiro was on it, an easy catch. Nick Green popped up, nearly into the Sox dugout, and Branyan walked over, and lightly ran into the TV camera there (I say “lightly” because he did make contact with it, but no damage was done to either himself or the camera/cameraman). George Kottaras secured his first home run of the season with two outs, and JD Drew came to the plate. The first pitch Lowe threw floated off the side to the plate, but the next was right down the middle, and Drew watched it go past and into Johnson’s glove. Lowe seemed slightly unsettled, as the third pitch was low and outside. Drew swung at the 4th pitch and fouled it off, his second strike. There was another ball thrown for the full count, and Drew hit it into the pocket in right field for a single.
Dustin Pedroia took a strike, then grounded to Chris Woodward, who briefly bobbled it before getting a grip and throwing to second for the final out. Had Woodward continued on what seems to be his present course and actually dropped the ball, this would have been a far different situation. I’m glad he was able to keep things under control.
I’m not sure we should have won this game, but I’m proud of the guys for doing so, they really battled. We had our bad moments, but we fought, and it worked. Had it not been for Johnson’s increasingly improving plate presence, this could have been a very different game. Also, RYAN FREAKING LANGERHANS!!!
Tomorrow morning, I get up early, game is at 10am. I was very much hoping it would be in the evening, so we’d have something to grill during, but I guess that doesn’t make much sense, as there are fireworks and time zones to take into consideration. So we’ll see what happens. Garrett Olson is the man on the mound tomorrow, let’s go Mariners!
*It’s an inside joke, too long to explain, but suffice to say, this game was both.