The Boston Red Sox continued their series against the Seattle Mariners, last night, with righty Rick Porcello matching wits against ‘King’ Felix Hernandez, the ace of Seattle’s starting rotation. Yet, it was young catching prospect Blake Swihart who would be the one with the final word?
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In front of over 45 000 screaming fans, the king of the Mariners held court in Safeco Field, coming into the game with a dominating 1.85 ERA. It showed in the top of the first inning, as Hernandez struck out Red Sox leadoff hitter Brock Holt on four pitches. A walk that was sandwiched by two groundouts ended the frame.
Porcello bettered Hernandez in the bottom of the inning by striking out Seattle’s leadoff hitter Seth Smith, with only three pitches. However, that feeling was short-lived as Porcello’s 78-mph curveball was drilled by Brad Miller over the right-center field fence for a solo home run.
Mariners fans have heard this story, many times before. Hernandez blanks a team, while his own team finds a way to support his cause and help him try to record the victory. Then, something broke that narrative: a first-pitch home run, to lead off the top of the second inning, by Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval.
The plot twist happened again in the top of the third inning, only this time it was designated hitter David Ortiz with a solo shot driven to right field. The Red Sox were winning 2-1, to the disbelief of the court jesters in the stands, whom were certain that their king would be superior to Boston’s starter.
Porcello continued to disappoint Seattle’s throng, sitting on top of the throne on the mound. It took his old foe from the first inning to bring the game even, again. Miller took a first-pitch changeup to right field for another solo home run.
With the game tied, Hernandez looked even more upset than after the two home runs that he allowed. Ian Browne of MLB.com reported that King Felix picked up an injury. “‘He tweaked his ankle a little bit,’ said Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon, who visited Hernandez with the trainer in the middle of that inning, but left him in to finish it out. ‘He told me it was OK, but I’m not sure if it didn’t affect him a little bit. He seemed to lose his command after that a little bit. It was a tough inning for him.'”
May 16, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Boston Red Sox catcher Blake Swihart (23) and pitcher Koji Uehara (19) at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports
Whether Hernandez lost his control in the sixth inning or when he was drilled for two home runs before that, he was not the same pitcher. With one out for the Red Sox, Hernandez allowed both Xander Bogaerts and Daniel Nava to have free trips to first base. On the very next pitch, Swihart doubled a cracking shot to center field, which scored Bogaerts. After another walk, this time to Jackie Bradley Jr., Holt grounded out to score Nava. Hernandez had given up four runs for the first time, this season.
Porcello, on the other hand, had no troubles with the Mariners not named Miller. He went into the seventh inning, only to be relieved by Tommy Layne, after two groundouts, because of his pitch count. Porcello threw 104 pitches, 65 of them for strikes. Not a terrible ratio, but why tempt fate? Let the bullpen do its job, while Porcello is still in line to be crowned the winner.
And, they did. The Mariners could not muster a comeback. Porcello earned his fourth win of the season, while Koji Uehara made quick work of the batters in the ninth inning to earn his ninth save.
- Mookie Betts had the night off for the Red Sox, but came into the game as a defensive substitution for Hanley Ramirez in left field in the bottom of the ninth inning.
- Even after going 0-for-4, Holt still contributed a walk and an RBI for the Red Sox.
- Ortiz, Swihart, and Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia all had two hits, last night, to lead the team’s eight-hit overall total. The Mariners only had five hits.
- King Felix’s night ended with four earned runs on seven hits, four walks, and five strikeouts in 6.0 innings.
Browne reported Porcello saying, “I’m just trying to put up zeros for us and get some wins. I don’t think it’s anything more than that. I’m trying to do my job.” Well, other than the two home runs, Porcello did what he said that he was trying to do. He ended his night with two earned runs on five hits, two walks, and six strikeouts in 6.2 innings of work. With three wins in his last four starts, Porcello looks to be the Red Sox’ own king of their pitching rotation. Yet, as Porcello’s words reflect, there’s nothing wrong with a humble king.
Someone had to have the game ball, but all three men from the bullpen deserved some praise. Layne andJunichi Tazawa
held the Mariners long enough for Uehara to finish the job. There were no hits or walks given up; only three combined strikeouts. In fact, it has been a long time since Uehara has given up a hit, let alone a run. On April 25th, in Camden Yards against the Baltimore Orioles, where he gave up two runs on two hits. Since then, Uehara has gone through eight appearances, dominating opposing batters and earning six saves in six opportunities.
While he’s only batting .167, and he struck out twice in the game, Swihart had two hits that included the double that resulted in the game-winning run. While Holt, Ortiz, and Sandoval each drove in a run, Swihart’s efforts bested each of them. Holt’s RBI was an insurance run, while Ortiz and Sandoval’s home runs were solo shots early in the game. All runs are important, but scoring a run after your teammates earn places on base to help win the game is the biggest factor. You can hit a ton of home runs throughout the season; however, if nobody is on base for your long balls, and the other team is manufacturing runs slowly but surely, you will have a hard go of it. Good on Swihart, to come through in a scoring situation.
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