Jean Segura’s single in the 13th scores Guillermo Heredia, giving the Mariners an improbable 6-5 victory after Boston had taken the lead in the top of the inning.
And now bring on Chris Sale.
In a game where they needed to secure a series win over Boston, the Mariners squandered scoring opportunities early when the sun was still lingering Tuesday evening and late in the darkness when the interminable game dragged on into extra innings and into the following day.
And yet 4 hours and 59 minutes after the first pitch of 7:10 p.m. on Tuesday, the Mariners were celebrating an improbable and stunning 6-5 victory over the Red Sox at 12:09 a.m. Wednesday when Guillermo Heredia raced home with the game-winning run after Jean Segura’s ground-ball single up the middle in the bottom of the 13th inning.
Red Sox @ Mariners,12:40 p.m., ROOT Sports
“What a ballgame,” said manager Scott Servais, who appeared to have played all 13 innings alongside his players. “Awesome effort by our entire club just to hang in there. It was a really important game. We know where we are at and we’ve been talking about trying to win series. Can’t say enough about the effort. We never quit.”
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In what will be one of their more unlikely wins this season, victory didn’t seem apparent when the Mariners stepped to the plate in the bottom of the 13th down 5-4. The disappointment of Sandy Leon’s broken bat single to left off of Tony Zych that scored Hanley Ramirez from second for the apparent go-ahead run in the top of the inning was palpable.
“I made my pitch,” Zych said. “He just got some wood on it and blooped it out there.”
Facing one-time Mariner Doug Fister in his third inning of work, Seattle got some life when Mitch Haniger worked a one-out walk and Ben Gamel reached on a force out. With two outs, Guillermo Heredia, who had provided the bulk of the offense in the game with his three-run homer in the second inning, fell behind 0-2 on the first two pitches of the at-bat. But the fiery outfielder wouldn’t give in. He wouldn’t commit to three pitches out of the strike zone and then fouled off three straight pitches with the count full. His resiliency was rewarded with a sharp single to right field that allowed Gamel to advance to third.
“It was an interesting and very critical at-bat,” Heredia said through interpreter Fernando Alcala. “I could have been the last out of the game. It was just matter a making sure I was ready when I got up there.”
Then it got weird.
Fister tossed a pitch in the dirt that got past catcher Sandy Leon, allowing Gamel to race home with the tying run. More importantly, Heredia, reading that Leon was slow to the ball, didn’t stop running, advancing to all the way to third.
“I was aggressive on the play,” Heredia said. “Once I looked back and saw the catcher was a little careless on the play, I took off for the third.”
Said Servais: “That was the biggest play of the game, keeping his head up there and taking the extra base.”
Fister proceeded to walk Zunino on four pitches, putting runners on the corners. Oddly, Red Sox manager John Farrell didn’t walk Jean Segura and pitch to the recently-acquired Danny Espinosa, who was hitting .160 in his time with Angels.
Segura won the game with a ground ball single up the middle that the Red Sox couldn’t make a play on. It was the first walk-off hit of Segura’s career.
“I didn’t know it until it got by (Xander) Bogaerts,” Segura said.
Segura wasn’t really expecting to bat in the inning.
“Me and Nellie (Cruz) and Robbie (Cano) were on the bench, talking about how we were going to win this game,” he said. “Then the last thing was Segura come up. It was crazy it how fast it came up. I wasn’t expecting to hit in that inning. And I got a walkoff.”
It might have been the win of the year for the Mariners, who gave up the go-ahead run in the top of the 13th only to score a run on a wild pitch and then the Segura single to improve to 51-51.
Now the Mariners will face the American League’s best pitcher and Cy Young favorite on Wednesday in the finale with the series win in their pocket. Beating Sale isn’t something you’d want to bet your life savings on since he’s 12-4 with a 2.48 ERA. Meanwhile, the Mariners are countering with rookie Andrew Moore and a fatigued bullpen. But the middle of game of the series proved odd things can happen.
After a crisp 4-0 win on Monday, it was obvious that the best way to get a coveted series win was to beat left-hander Drew Pomeranz in the middle game of the series and then hope for magic against Sale to steal a sweep.
And Pomeranz did plenty to help the Mariners do that, putting runners on base and going deep in counts to almost every batter.
Yet the Mariners only garnered a 3-0 lead off him despite his struggles.
In the second inning, Heredia turned on an 0-1 fastball, yanking it down the left-field line for a three-run homer. The Mariners got no more against Pomeranz, squandering opportunities and stranding runners in scoring position in the third and fourth inning.
Still, given a 3-0 lead, Felix Hernandez seemed poised to give Seattle a solid start. He cruised through the first three innings without allowing a run.
Hernandez allowed Ramirez to shave a run off the lead with two outs in the fourth inning. Hernandez misplaced a 1-1 slider over the middle of the plate that was repurposed by Ramirez into a line drive off the scoreboard above the bullpens in left-center.
It was the third straight start Hernandez allowed a long ball, this one making the score 3-1.
His start fell apart in the sixth inning when his command of his secondary pitches disappeared and an unwillingness to challenge hitters with his fastball became noticeable.
Hernandez issued a leadoff walk to touted rookie Rafael Devers in his second big-league plate appearance and then walked Andrew Benitendi with one out after being up 0-2 in the count. And like so often for any pitcher, the free passes came back to hurt Hernandez. After going up 1-2 on Dustin Pedroia, Hernandez couldn’t put him away and left a slider over the middle that was turned into a two-run double.
With two outs and Pedroia on second, Hernandez left a changeup up at the belt to Jackie Bradley Jr., who lined a single up the middle to score Pedroia. It ended Hernandez’s outing.
Mike Zunino bailed his starter out with a solo homer off of Heath Hembree to start the seventh to tie the game at 4-4.