Saturday, August 13, 2011
King Felix & Mariners Beat Beckett & Red Sox On A Weird Night In Emerald City
Anytime the Seattle Mariners score five runs in an inning, let alone against one of the American League's best pitchers (Josh Beckett), it is cause for national headlines.
Ironically enough, that one random inning allowed the M's (51-67) and Felix Hernandez (11-10) to hold off the Red Sox (73-45) and Beckett (9-5) tonight 5-4 at Safeco Field.
Weird doesn't begin to describe a game that featured a homer by Ichiro Suzuki on the first pitch Beckett threw, a two-run home run by something called Casper Wells, Terry Francona's ejection after a call at home plate and a balk that happened but I guess didn't officially occur.
After Ichiro's homer, rookie Mike Carp added a two-run single and Wells put the exclamation point on the five-spot with a two-run homer.
Beckett (5 innings, 5 earned runs, 8 hits, 1 walk, 6 strikeouts) was able to settle down after that (3 hits in the last 4 innings) but the damage had been done. It's too bad that Boston lost for the simple fact that Matt Albers (1.2 innings, 3 strikeouts), Franklin Morales (0.2 innings, 1 strikeout) and Alfredo Aceves (0.2 innings, 2 strikeouts) combined to give up one hit in some of their best collective work of the season.
It shouldn't be a surprise that the Mariners were blanked after the first inning as they had Wily Mo Pena of all people hitting fifth as the designated hitter. The former Red Sox great was 0 for 4 with two strikeouts.
When Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia each hit a pair of two-run bombs in the sixth inning, it looked like the Red Sox were brewing up yet another comeback but Felix Hernandez, Jamey Wright and Brandon League didn't let it get any closer.
Ellsbury's homer was his 20th of the season, making him the sixth player in Boston history to have 20 homers and 20 steals in the same season. Get used to seeing that often from him. Likewise, Pedroia's 16th homer (to go with 23 stolen bases) means that he could join his teammate in that select company within the next month or so.
Felix didn't have his best stuff either but the big lead that Seattle staked him to proved to be just enough. He went seven innings, allowing four earned runs on nine hits with two walks and two strikeouts.
Wright threw a scoreless eighth for his 14th hold while League struck out two in a 1-2-3 ninth for his 28th save of the season.
The two wacky plays happened in the fourth and eighth when the Red Sox were batting. In the fourth, Jacoby Ellsbury tried to score on a shallow fly ball to right field by Pedroia. Ichiro delivered a perfect throw to the plate and catcher Josh Bard held on despite getting kneed in the head by Ellsbury. At first, the home plate umpire called him safe but then after a long wait he reversed the call. Incensed, Terry Francona came out and got his money's worth before he was ejected. It was the right call as Bard held onto the ball on his stomach but who knows how or why the umpire suddenly changed his mind?
In the eighth, Wright appeared to balk with pinch runner Darnell McDonald at first. After that didn't transpire, McDonald tried to steal second but would you believe he was thrown out on a close play. The replay made it seem like again the second-base umpire got it right but I'd like to know how the balk was reversed.
Tim Wakefield tries to win No. 300 for the fourth time tomorrow afternoon as Boston closes out its six game road trip (3-2 so far) against Portland, ME native Charlie Furbush of the Mariners.