SEATTLE -- Denard Span hit another laser beam down the line in the eighth inning against the Red Sox on Friday night at Safeco Field, and it felt like Opening Day all over again.This time, Span's two-run double -- a pinch-hit no less -- lifted the Mariners to 7-6 victory
SEATTLE -- Denard Span hit another laser beam down the line in the eighth inning against the Red Sox on Friday night at Safeco Field, and it felt like Opening Day all over again.
This time, Span's two-run double -- a pinch-hit no less -- lifted the Mariners to 7-6 victory over Boston.
On March 29, wearing a Tampa Bay Rays uniform, it was Span who smoked a triple in just about the same spot and in the same inning to lead a furious comeback against the Red Sox.
And here the Sox thought the Rays had done them a favor by trading Span (.310 lifetime hitter against Boston) out of the division.
"It seems like Denard Span always does that against us," said Xander Bogaerts. "I remember he did that when he went to Tampa Bay earlier in the year. Same thing, ball down that same line, two RBIs again."
On Opening Day, it was Carson Smith who misplaced a crucial pitch to Span. This time, it was Matt Barnes, who was hoping to protect the lead for starting pitcher Rick Porcello.
"I threw a curveball and he hit a double," Barnes said. "He's a good hitter, he's a veteran hitter, he's going to put together a quality at-bat. Have got to execute pitches. I left one a little too up."
Trouble started for Barnes when he walked Ryon Healy and gave up a single to Ben Gamel.
"I've got to throw a curveball for a strike to Healy," Barnes said. "I lost the feel for a few pitches and that killed me and then I was behind on him."
The Red Sox put the potential tying and go-ahead runs on base in the ninth against Seattle closer Edwin Diaz, but Eduardo Nunez swung at an 0-2 pitch out of the strike zone and grounded out weakly to first to end the game.
It was a topsy-turvy night for the Sox, who won the first four games on this three-city, 10-game road trip. Down, 3-0, after two, Boston stormed back with a six-spot against Mariners ace James Paxton in the third.
Bogaerts belted a three-run homer to right-center off Paxton to snap the 3-3 tie.
Give the Mariners credit for not getting deflated, even after Paxton -- hurt by shoddy defense behind him -- had his shortest start of the season (2 1/3 innings).
Seattle chipped back with a run in the fifth against Porcello, who gave up four runs over six innings while walking one and striking out nine.
Richard Hembree served up a solo shot to Mike Zunino to open the seventh, and the lead was down to just one.
"It was just a 3-2 slider away and he got to it and hit it out," said Hembree. "Yeah, Rick threw six quality innings and kept us there with the lead. It's our job to come in and shut the door down and just didn't get it down tonight."
WIth the crowd at Safeco Field buzzing in the eighth, the Mariners completed the comeback to win for the 16th time in their last 21 games.
"We put pressure on them in the ninth, but he's a good one," said Red Sox manager Alex Cora said of Diaz. "Good fastball. Good breaking ball. Gets the place going, too. But that was fun tonight. That was good. Good atmosphere."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Missed opportunity: In the eighth and up by a run, the Red Sox had runners at first and second with nobody out. Jackie Bradley Jr. , who is hitting .185 this season, tried to lay down a bunt but missed the pitch. He wound up striking out. Pinch-hitter Andrew Benintendi grounded out and Brock Holt lined out to end Boston's chance of tacking on. That proved to be costly, considering what happened in the bottom of the eighth.
"You've got Benny behind you, and Mookie [Betts] after him, so we'd like to get him over and see what they do. Take my chances with Benny with the infield in, said Cora. "But he didn't get it down and after that I let him swing the bat. He's been swinging the bat well. We had a few chances, we didn't score. You always want to score when we have a chance, first and second, especially where we were in the bullpen and where they were in the lineup."
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Another lost opportunity for the Red Sox took place in the seventh, when with two on and two outs, Bogaerts smashed one up the middle. But second baseman Dee Gordon made a tremendous stab on the one-hopper and flipped to second for the force to end the inning. According to Statcast™, Bogaerts had a hit probability of 67 percent on the 107.8-mph grounder.
Knuckleballer Steven Wright, who has been nearly untouchable (no runs in 13 2/3 innings) in two starts since replacing the injured Thomas Pomeranz in the rotation, gets the ball for Saturday's 8:15 p.m. ET contest at Safeco Field. The Red Sox will get Benintendi back in the lineup after the red-hot left fielder got a night of rest on Friday.
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.