BOSTON — When everything about the bottom of 10th inning screamed that the Mariners would fumble and flub their way to yet another defeat, they did just enough to allow themselves to believe for a better result.
In a series when few things went their way based largely on their middling execution and performance, they had a chance to stave off defeat for at least one more inning and give themselves another chance, albeit slim, to eke out a victory. While it wouldn’t be season changing, it would at least avoid the embarrassment of being swept in a four-game series, slow the decline of a season that is starting to feel like so many irrelevant ones in the past and make a cross-country flight more tolerable.
Seattle got an unexpectedly strong throw from Dylan Moore in right field to cut down the potential winning run at the plate. And with one out and the bases loaded, Andres Munoz got Trevor Story to pop out to shallow right field for the second out of the inning. And when Moore dropped the ball while transferring it to his bare hand, Enrique Hernandez slipped on the play and couldn’t score from third.
With two outs, the Mariners simply had to retire hulking left fielder Franchy Cordero to push the game to the 11th inning.
But there was no reason to prolong the impending agony on a 90-degree, high-humidity afternoon at Fenway Park.
After getting up 0-2 on a pair of sliders, Munoz fired a third one that hung in the middle of plate. Cordero pounced on the mistake, smashing it deep into the right field seats for a walkoff grand slam and an 8-4 Red Sox victory.
“A lot to unpack in that game in the last few innings,” manager Scott Servais said after a beleaguered exhale. “Munoz will learn a lot from what happened today. And I thought he was going to kind of get an opportunity to wiggle out of it. He just made a mistake and he paid dearly for it.”
The last time Seattle was swept in a four-game series was Sept. 5-8, 2019, at Minute Maid Park by the Astros.
The Mariners (17-25) finished the road trip with a 2-7 record and share last place in the American League West with the rebuilding Oakland A’s. The two teams will open a three-game series Monday at T-Mobile Park with lefty Marco Gonzales making the start.
“Our guys competed their tails off today and really gave everything they had out there. Our team continues to fight and battle. No quit. It’s been a rough trip for us, a rough go of it here the last few weeks.”
No player did more to give the Mariners a chance to win than starter Logan Gilbert, who gave the Mariners a quality outing in the heat, leaving his uniform looking as if he showered in it. With an overworked bullpen, Gilbert gave the Mariners seven innings, allowing three runs on five hits with two walks and five strikeouts.
“One of the best things is probably that I felt like I didn’t have most of my stuff early on and I was trying to find it one way,” Gilbert said. “We were able to get creative and make it work and go seven. So I think that’s pretty good.”
He allowed a solo homer to Christian Arroyo with two outs in the second inning. The Red Sox pushed their lead to 2-0 an inning later as they worked the bases loaded and picked up a run on Xander Bogaerts’ sacrifice fly.
After being stymied for five innings by Red Sox starter Nathan Eovaldi, the Mariners offense finally got to the veteran right-hander in the sixth. Taylor Trammell worked a leadoff walk and Adam Frazier followed with a fly ball to right field that curled around the right-field foul pole, commonly referred to as the Pesky Pole, into the short right-field seats for his second homer of the season.
The game remained tied for only about 10 minutes.
Story continued his torture of Mariners pitching and the reclamation of his season with a leadoff homer to start the sixth inning. It was his fifth homer of the four-game series vs. Seattle; he also drove in 13 runs.
Down a run, the Mariners tied the game in the top of the ninth when Eugenio Suarez clubbed a solo homer over the monster off Boston’s Hansel Robles. It was the sixth blown save in the ninth inning or later by a Red Sox reliever this season.
After Paul Sewald held Boston scoreless in the bottom of the ninth, the Mariners grabbed a 4-3 lead in the top of the 10th. Moore’s one-out single off lefty Jake Diekman moved automatic runner Sam Haggerty to third base. Frazier collected his third hit of the game, dumping a one-out single to score Haggerty.
With runners on first and third and one out, Seattle seemed ready to add some needed insurance runs. But Diekman struck out Ty France and J.P. Crawford to end the rally.
“We had Ty and J.P. coming up, but Diekman is good,” Servais said. “No doubt he made pitches. He came back and got J.P. after he was down 3-0 in the count. He didn’t waffle. You’re hoping to pick up another runner or two there but we just weren’t able to do it.”
The Red Sox, who came into the game with an 0-5 record in extra-inning games, were aggressive against Munoz. Christian Vazquez singled to move automatic runner Bobby Dalbec to third base and Enrique Hernandez singled to right field to tie the game. Rafael Devers followed with another single but Moore’s solid throw home was able to just get the sliding Vazquez at the plate. A lengthy replay review allowed the call on the field to stand. After the Red Sox filled the bases, Cordero’s grand slam ended the game.