Miguel Batista and Mark Lowe couldn’t get it done in the seventh inning and the Red Sox scored five times to take a 8-4 lead. Batista got the first out, then walked J.D. Drew and yielded a single to left by Dustin Pedroia that only some great Ryan Langernahs hustle prevented from being a double. Batista then got a flyout on Kevin Youkilis. But he fell behind David Ortiz 3-0 and saw the next pitch roped to right for a a tying single.
Lowe came on to face Jason Bay with runners at the corners and two out and walked him on four pitches to load the bases. He then walked Jacoby Ellsbury on five pitches to force in the go-ahead run.
Eight of Lowe’s first nine pitches were called balls. Plate umpire C.B. Bucknor seemed to squeeze him a tad, but Lowe also missed the strike zone by a wide margin on a couple of offerings.
Lowe fell behind 3-1 on Mark Kotsay, saw the count go full, then gave up a two-run single that put Boston ahead by three.
Sean White came in and threw a pitch that Kenji Johjima let get by him for a passed ball and another run against.
12:28 p.m.: The Red Sox got a run back in the sixth on a solo home run to right field by Jacoby Ellsbury to cut Seattle’s lead to 4-3. The third home run given up by Brandon Morrow today, but all have been solo shots. You’re going to give them up in the ballpark, that’s a given. But best to do it with no one on. Morrow is now at 97 pitches through six innings. I don’t think the Martiners bring him back out again with the top of the order due up after No. 9 hitter Nick Green.
Miguel Batista is warmed up in the bullpen. The Mariners could use some more runs here. They have a couple of homers this series. Could use a few more, especially with Russell Branyan and company due up.
12:16 p.m.: Brandon Morrow got himself in all kinds of trouble in the fifth, putting runners at second and third with one out. But he pitched out of it — against the meat of the order too. First, he jammed Kevin Youkilis and got him to pop out to shallow center. But the at-bat that was a treat to watch was his battle against David Ortiz. He started him off with some fastballs, then, with the count 2-1, threw him an 89 mph change-up that Ortiz swung at but had no chance of hitting because he was expecting a 97 mph fastball. Morrow then came back with an 86 mph slider that Ortiz fouled off at the last moment.
Then, with Ortiz somewhat off-balance, Morrow blew a 97 mph heater by the frozen big man.
Now, that’s pitching. That’s what we’re talking about. Using your head and employing some strategy to go along with the “stuff”.
Morrow is through five innings with a 4-2 lead.
12:03 p.m.: The ball has been bouncing Seattle’s way the past two innings and the M’s now have a 4-2 lead after a Franklin Gutierrez at-bat in the fifth that was similar to Russell Branyan’s 11-pitch sacrifice fly in yesterday’s game. Like Branyan, Gutierrez was down 0-2 in the count. But he battled back, took the count full and then, on the 10th pitch of the at-bat, chopped a ball high to the left side. Jon Lester knew he had no shot at throwing the runner out so he opted to let it roll foul, but the ball got stuck in the grass for an infield hit that loaded the bases with one out.
Ryan Langerhans then hit a sacrifice fly to the deepest part of the yard in center — a grand slam in some parks — to give the M’s a two-run lead. This is a huge fifth inning for Brandon Morrow, now at 57 pitches and with a chance to go deeper than usual.
UPDATE: 11:48 a.m.: Mike Sweeney did indeed leave the game because of back spasms.
11:40 a.m.: Sometimes, it’s better to be lucky than good. The Mariners now have a 3-2 lead after a three-run triple in the fourth by Ronny Cedeno that bounced just inside the right field line. Right fielder J.D. Drew is an above average defender, but had to slide towards the ball to avoid crashing into the short retaining wall in this oddly-configured ballpark. That slide enabled the ball to get by him and cash in all three runners with two out.
Of course, the only reason the inning was still going on is that a double-play grounder hit by Kenji Johjima with two on and one out was muffed. Third baseman Kevin Youkilis had to throw directly into the path of the oncoming runner from second and second baseman Dustin Pedroia might have been screened slightly. Pedroia dropped the ball, leaving the bases loaded. Chris Woodward struck out, but then Cedeno caught a break on the two-strike pitch hit off the end of his bat.
The M’s will take it.
11:23 a.m.: It’s still 2-0 for Boston after three innings of play. Brandon Morrow has indeed started mixing in more change-ups to try to keep the fastball-seeking Red Sox off balance. As a result, they’ve mis-hit some balls into quick outs. Morrow is now at 45 pitches through three innings, meaning it took him only 23 to get through the last two as opposed to 22 in the opening frame.
The Mariners have had hits every inning and now Ken Griffey Jr. has replaced Mike Sweeney at DH. We’ll get word on what happened to Sweeney but my guess is something to do with his back. Sweeney just singled off the Green Monster, only his fifth hit in 53 ABs here at Fenway since leaving the Mariners in 1999.
Seattle is outhitting the Red Sox 5-4 but has zero to show for it, while Boston had home runs on two of its hits.
10:50 a.m.: If the Mariners are to sweep this series, they’ll have to get a better effort out of Brandon Morrow. He came out throwing fastballs in the first inning and the Red Sox were ready, getting solo homers from Dustin Pedroia over the Green Monster in left, and David Ortiz on a no-doubter to right to make it 2-0.
That’s 22 pitches after one inning for Morrow.
Morrow is making it too easy for these guys. He has to mix up his pitches and find a way to last more than his usual five innings. Otherwise, this team will have to find a suitable rotation replacement because contending teams can’t afford to be doing Class AAA work at the major league level. Let’s see what he does from here. Needs to economize his pitches more the next couple of innings.
10:35 a.m.: The Mariners are attempting something they’ve never done before: sweep the Red Sox at Fenway Park. They’ll have to do it against Washington’s own Jon Lester. It’s “Rhode Island Day” at the ballpark, which would sort of be like “Oregon Day” at Safeco Field.
They had Rhode Islander Mark Wahlberg , of Planet of the Apes fame (yes, yes, I know he’s done better, including The Departed, but let me have some fun at his expense please) throw out the ceremonial first pitch. He stunned the crowd by missing the catcher entirely, but asked for a do-over and this time executed the task.
Forget about a platoon for now. Looks like Ryan Langerhans is now the everyday left fielder, starting against the lefty today.
1B Russell Branyan
2B Jose Lopez
DH Mike Sweeney
CF Franklin Gutierrez
LF Ryan Langerhans
C Kenji Johjima
3B Chris Woodward
SS Ronny Cedeno
RHP Brandon Morrow
RF J.D. Drew
2B Dustin Pedroia
3B Kevin Youkilis
DH David Ortiz
LF Jason Bay
CF Jacoby Ellsbury
1B Mark Kotsay
C Jason Varitek
SS Nick Green
LHP Jon Lester