Friday night’s game had a lot of action early before settling down in the middle innings; it looked like it would be a fairly easy win for the Sox. Then the 9th inning happened… and things got wild and wooly.
The Mariners came to the South Side on a roll, having won 8 games in a row, they’re best stretch of the season. Jake Peavy was on the mound, coming off his shortest start in three months. He gave up a run in each of the first two innings, but settled down after that, pitching 7 runs altogether and not allowing any runs over the final five. Meanwhile, the offense quickly tied the game up, first on Adam Dunn‘s MLB best 37th home run of the season, then a second time on a single by Alexei Ramirez. From there, they pulled ahead, then further ahead. Dunn homered again and Ramirez added one too (his 8th) and by the end of the 5th it was 7-2 Pale Hose.
Incidentally, Dunn’s second home run puts him on pace to hit 50 for the year, which would break Albert Belle’s franchise record of 49 goners, set in 1998. As is, Dunn is already tied for the 12th most home runs in Sox history.
Seattle’s Jesus Montero led the inning off with a home run to left field, but it was still only a 7-3 game, not much cause for concern. After a fly ball out and a walk, Humber left and Donne Veal came in. Veal had given up just 1 hit in his 6 appearances this season and hadn’t allowed a single run, he gave up a run scoring double though, making it a 7-4 game with 1 out and a runner on, and with the game suddenly turned into a save situation, Reed was brought in. He couldn’t retire any of the first three batters he faced though and a while a sacrifice fly meant there were two outs, it also made it a 7-6 game with runners on 1st and 3rd. A single paired with an error by Alex Rios plated two runs and the Sox were now behind.
There was no quit in the team though, they came out and battled in the bottom of the 9th.
Gordon Beckham led things of with an infield single and Dewayne followed it with a walk. Kevin Youkilis drove a ball threw the infield for a hit, scoring Beckham to tie the game and put the winning run on second, still with no outs. Dunn hit the ball deep to left, but not quite deep enough, narrowly missing his 3rd home run of the game with a long out instead. That brought Paul Konerko to the plate.
Already sitting on a pair of hits on the night, Konerko hit one deep to right-center field. Seattle’s Eric Thames tracked the ball well and had it in the glove as he hit the track, but at that exact moment, center fielder Michael Saunders crashed into Thames and as he fell to the ground, the ball squirted from his glove and rolled a good fifty feet away, giving Dewayne Wise plenty of time to scoot around from second base with the game winning run on what was ruled a double for Konerko.
It was a bizarre exclamation point to a bizarre 9th inning.
Most importantly, it was another win for the Sox, which, combined with a loss tonight for Detroit, puts the team 2.5 games ahead of the Tigers.
Final Score: 9-8, Sox
(look at the swings in the 9th inning of Fangraphs’ Game Graph)