Looking to keep up in the race for one of two American League Wild Card spots, the Red Sox made the most of their extra-innings opportunities in the 10th inning of Wednesday’s series finale against the Mariners.
Alex Verdugo singled to advance Jack López -- who was the automatic runner on second base to begin the 10th inning -- to third base. Just moments later, López came in to score the go-ahead run on a passed ball, sparking a six-run inning for the Red Sox as they went on to win, 9-4, over the Mariners at T-Mobile Park.
The win brought the Red Sox’s record to 83-65 and kept them tied with the Blue Jays and the Yankees atop the AL Wild Card standings after Toronto won over Tampa Bay and New York defeated Baltimore.
“It's playoff baseball,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “It feels that way. And it's fun, to be honest with you. When you give your all and then at the end of the game you're exhausted for the right reasons. … You got to give [this club] credit. They went on this road trip knowing that it was going to be a tough one.”
Boston was held to just three walks and a single between the third and ninth innings after it got out to a 3-0 third-inning lead. But after the defensive miscue from Mariners catcher Tom Murphy that allowed López to score in the 10th, the Red Sox received RBI hits from J.D. Martinez, Kyle Schwarber and Christian Vázquez.
“It started with Dugie going the other way,” Cora said. “… Kyle was patient, J.D. put the ball in play. There were a lot of good things.”
Although the Red Sox’s bats were held quiet leading up until the final frame of Wednesday’s series finale, their pitching staff held the Mariners to one run in the final seven innings. They limited Seattle to three hits, an intentional walk and a hit by pitch over that span.
The lone score came across when J.P. Crawford grounded out, allowing Jarred Kelenic to score from third after Kelenic began the bottom of the 10th inning as the automatic runner on second base.
“I have applauded our bullpen the whole year,” said Red Sox starter Tanner Houck, who allowed three runs and struck out seven across 4 1/3 innings. “They have stepped up. They have done an incredible role. They are a significant part of this team and they've stepped up to every occasion that we've called upon them, and every time that I hand off the ball to them, I have all [the] confidence in them.”
The win wrapped up a 3-3 road trip for the Red Sox that included going 2-1 against the Mariners and 1-2 against the White Sox. During the road trip, Boston went 1-3 in one-run ballgames, and its bullpen allowed just two earned runs in its last 26 2/3 innings over that span.
“This road trip, I feel like [we've been] putting in some heavy innings out of the 'pen and just trying to do our job and keep the games close, give ourselves a chance,” said Adam Ottavino, who pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings, earning the win Wednesday. “The Seattle broadcast was talking about how they had the bullpen advantage in this series, and I think, at least I did, I took it personally. [I’m] glad that we were able to be the difference the last two nights.”
With 14 games left in the season, the Red Sox return to Boston on Friday to open an eight-game homestand that begins with three games against Baltimore.
Entering Wednesday, the Red Sox had the easiest remaining schedule of any team in the Majors based on opponents' win percentage (.424).
Cora said the .500 road trip and series win in Seattle puts Boston in a good position to secure a spot in the playoffs, something he said not many predicted heading into the final weeks of the season.
“So happy flight, we'll reset tomorrow and like I said before, not too many people thought that the last homestand of the season was gonna mean something,” Cora said. “Now, it means a lot. Hopefully it's gonna be fun Friday, and the rest of the week and we can take care of business.”