The Mariners just scored three in the sixth to break this game open at 6-2. The big blow was a Michael Saunders double off the center field wall that scored Justin Smoak from second base. Mike Zunino wound up scoring all the way from first on a throwing error by center fielder Daniel Nava. Saunders later took third base on a groundout with some heads-up running. Raul Ibanez promptly drove him home with a single.
9:04 p.m.: Raul Ibanez just belted his 22nd home run of the season to give the Mariners a 3-2 lead in the fifth. The last leaves Ibanez just seven homers away from tying Ted Williams for the most ever hit by a 41-year-old (except for me on XBox three years ago). Ibanez also has a 13-game hitting streak and just notched his 50th RBI. “Oh, but what about his defens…” Aw, shaddup already!
9:00 p.m.: Not a very Felix Hernandez-like fifth inning, giving up a pair of runs to allow the Red Sox to tie it right away, 2-2. Hernandez hit the first batter he faced, then gave up a single to right field to put runners at the corners with one out. He then gave up a Daniel Nava single to center that brought the first Boston run home and then uncorked a wild-pitch on a Jonny Gomes strikeout that tied things up.
Up to that point, the Mariners had the Red Sox right where they wanted them. But their ace just let the visitors right back into the game.
8:49 p.m.: The Mariners finally broke on through against Jon Lester in the fourth, scoring twice to take a 2-0 lead and very nearly adding more before he shut them down. Kendrys Morales opened with a single, then took third on a single to right by Kyle Seager that was slowed up by a diving Dustin Pedroia before it rolled on through to the outfield. Jason Bay struck out but then Justin Smoak doubled to left field — a big hit batting right-handed and with runners in scoring position — to bring home a run.
Mike Zunino then walked to load the bases and Michael Saunders walked as well to force home a second run in the inning. But Lester tightened up from there, getting Brad Miller to pop out. Nick Franklin then gave the ball a ride to the warning track in center but it was hauled in by Daniel Nava on the run.
We’ll see whether the inability to inflict further damage comes back to haunt the Mariners.
8:13 p.m.: We’re now scoreless through three innings of what has developed into the expected mound duel between Felix Hernandez and Jon Lester. Both teams have had their chances, with the Red Sox putting two on with one out in the second, then getting a runner to second with one out in the third without scoring.
The Mariners got a leadoff double by Kendrys Morales in the second and had two on with one out in the third but came away empty against left-hander Lester.
6:30 p.m.: One way for the Mariners to score some runs tonight might be to hit the ball to the outfield. It’s a Motley Crew out there, with Daniel Nava playing in center, Mike Carp in left and Jonny Gomes in right. Nava has never played center in the majors and has only had 13 innings of minor league exposure to the position.
Why is he there? Because Shane Victorino and Jacoby Ellsbury are both out with injuries.
By the way, for those dreaming of Ellsbury playing in center field for the Mariners next season, here’s something to consider. The folks who cover this Boston team regularly tend to mumble about Ellsbury in the same way that people in Seattle do about Franklin Gutierrez. In other words, Ellsbury just can’t seem to stay on the field for whatever reason.
So, if you really want Ellsbury here instead of Gutierrez, well, all I can say is…be careful what you wish for.