Mariners drop to four games in wildcard chase after terrible 10th inning against Red Sox
A slider out of the seam of Jake Bauers pant leg put the potential winning run on base and the possible double winner – a line down the straight field line with Bauers running – landed for a foul of a few. centimeters, transforming screams of hope Mariners fans in the crowd of 17,860 let out bewildered whines.
Instead of a ninth inning victory and a success story for Jarred Kelenic, who went from a hard-hitting messiah to a potential social media outcast in an eventful first season, the young rookie struck an unexpected change. Adam Ottavino – only the second he’s thrown in over 1,000 throws this season – to complete the ninth inning.
And those inches that separated the Mariners from a victory celebration and having to play extra innings were as close as they came to beating the Red Sox in what would instead be a crushing 9-4 loss that would have also torpedoed their playoff hopes.
A 10e-a set implosion that started with a single bloop to the left, a passed ball allowing the starting point to score, a walk and another single bloop without an out being recorded snowballed into a flurry of six points by Boston, turning a 3-3 game into a disappointing rout that pushed fans out before the third out was made.
The Mariners are down to 78-68 and have four games behind the Red Sox (83-65) and Blue Jays (82-64) for second place wild card with 16 games remaining in the season. The Yankees also have half a game ahead of them.
“In a game like this you need a few breaks,” manager Scott Servais said. “You need a bounce off a ball to be fair when it’s barely a foul, things like that. And obviously, we didn’t make it happen for us in the end. Our guys really left everything on the pitch. If Kelenic’s ball is one foot the other way, it’s a win on foot and you may feel better, but that didn’t happen today.
Kelenic, who had two hits earlier in the game, threw a 96 mph fastball from Ottavino on a 0-1 count and sprinted to first base thinking the game was won.
“I was hoping,” Kelenic said softly. “I had a good shot and put a good swing on it, I hit really hard, but that’s what it is.”
Down 0-2, Kelenic didn’t chase three shots out of the area, then fouled on a fastball. Ottavino then stunned Kelenic with just the second change he threw all season for a decisive three strike.
“He kicked off his change like 3% of the time,” Kelenic said, referring to stats from the past few seasons. “I was one of those 3 percent. It’s frustrating. It’s just another learning opportunity – as horrible as it sounds and as cliché as it sounds. I really wish I could have gone up there.
Servais thinks that will prepare Kelenic for the next time he finds himself in this situation.
“The change he threw it in to end the at-bat was one hell of a throw,” Servais said. “It’s above the plate. It’s broken down, and it’s hard to fire. (Ottavino) has a lot of experience, and he’s been through wars a bit. So he has the ability to throw or he wouldn’t be there. It is certainly not his preferred pitch. But it was the right pitch at the time. He kind of had Jarred with the breaking balls and the fastball, and he went down midfield so to speak and it worked for him.
With Drew Steckenrider unavailable due to use and Casey Sadler, Paul Sewald and Diego Castillo used to reach ninth, Servais turned to right-hander Erik Swanson to start on 10e. He never recorded an out and was charged with four runs (three earned) on two hits.
Without an out and goals loaded, Justus Sheffield tried to put a tourniquet on the sleeve. He got Rafael Devers to hit a ground ball against Ty France which resulted in a home strength. But JD Martinez’s ground shot on the left side was just out of reach of a JP Crawford dive. If it had been 6 inches to the right, it’s a double play at the end of the inning and a one-point deficit. Instead, it opened the floodgates for a lead Seattle had no chance to overcome.
Seattle got a strong start from Marco Gonzales despite three runs in the first two innings.
After giving up a solo homerun to Hunter Renfroe in the first, the Red Sox pushed the lead to 3-0 in the second, although a poorly played ball in left field by Jake Fraley could have limited the damage.
It was the second game in a row where a play on a catchable ball in the outfield was not made, leading to runs.
But if there were any thoughts that Gonzales might let the game get out of hand, he immediately quelled that idea in the third inning, removing Renfroe, Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers in order. It was the start of four straight scoreless innings where Gonzales failed to allow a hit, fielding a runner and striking out seven.
On his 110e field of the day, Gonzales retired Martinez at bat.
He finished with six innings pitched, three runs allowed on three hits with two walks and seven strikeouts.
“The first run was a mistake for Renfroe, and he took advantage of it,” said Gonzales. “After that, I really don’t think they put in much, not a ton of hard contact. We came in with a great game plan, we executed it.
His teammates also responded with immediate support late in the third against Red Sox starter Tanner Houck.
A start single from Kelenic followed by a single to the right for Tom Murphy resulted in a run. Kelenic tested Renfroe’s powerful but not always precise throwing arm in right field going from first to third. The ball ended up in the camera close to the canoe, allowing Kelenic to score.
Later, with two outs and runners in the second and third, Kyle Seager hit a double in the third baseline to tie the game at 3-3.
Going into the onset of the plaque, Seager had only one stroke – oscillating decay – in 21 plaque appearances on the homestand.
THE SCORE OF THE BOX