For the second time in three nights, the Seattle Mariners won a game on their final swing – this time beating the Boston Red Sox, 3-2, on a Chone Figgins sacrifice fly in the 11th inning Saturday.
After singles by Dustin Ackley and Miguel Olivo put runners at first and third base with one out, Figgins lined to right fielder Cody Ross.
And just as Casper Wells avoided a tag at the plate in Thursday’s 1-0 win, Ackley beat the throw to catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia and slid home with the winning run.
Victory may have come at a cost: rookie right-handed pitcher Erasmo Ramirez had to leave the game after 22/3 innings – walking off after his 42nd pitch, unable to continue.
“It’s something with his right elbow, and he had an MRI tonight,” manager Eric Wedge said. “We won’t know the results until (today). Our bullpen was the story of the day, and we used all but one guy and they really stepped up.
“I loved our fight tonight.”
Once Ramirez had to come out, this became another of the Mariners’ rag-tag, crazed bullpen relays. With Hisashi Iwakuma given a spot start against Baltimore on Monday, the Mariners had no long reliever to eat innings.
So Wedge ran his relievers at Boston in waves, and eventual winner Shawn Kelley was the seventh he used. It’ll be a tired bullpen today behind Jason Vargas.
The bigger surprise for a Safeco Field crowd of 31,111, however, was that the Seattle Mariners scored first, pushing across two sixth-inning runs. With two outs, singles by Ichiro Suzuki and Kyle Seager sandwiched a walk and loaded the bases.
John Jaso, who drove in the winning run in Thursday’s series opener, banged a double off the right-field wall and the Mariners were ahead, 2-0.
The lead lasted an inning.
Following Ramirez to the mound, left-hander Charlie Furbush pitched 2 scoreless innings – and his streak of 222/3 consecutive scoreless innings is the third longest by a reliever in franchise history.
Lucas Luetge worked a 1-2-3 sixth, but when he gave up a leadoff single to Adrian Gonzalez in the seventh, Wedge went to the bullpen and right-hander Brandon League.
The Red Sox pushed across two runs for the tie on a bases-loaded fielder’s choice ground ball and a passed ball off the glove of catcher Miguel Olivo – his sixth of the season.
Still, the Mariners’ offense that had been dormant throughout this homestand – and had produced only two hits in a Friday shutout loss – showed tenacity.
Munenori Kawasaki and Ichiro had back-to-back singles in the seventh inning with one out. Casper Wells flied out deep enough to allow Kawasaki to take third base.
Lefty Andrew Miller struck out Seager, and the usually stoic North Carolinian fired his bat angrily into the dirt around home plate.
After Oliver Perez set the Red Sox down in order in the eighth inning, Dustin Ackley singled with two outs for Seattle but was left at first base.
That got the game to the ninth inning, and closer Tom Wilhelmsen came in, carrying his own streak of 152/3 consecutive scoreless innings. The Red Sox rallied on a one-out line drive single by Cody Ross and a bloop hit by Ryan Kalish into short left field.
Wilhelmsen then did what the best relievers can do when in trouble – he found another gear and shifted into it. With a fastball clocked at 99 mph, he struck out Mike Aviles, then got Daniel Nava on a pop up to Chone Figgins in left field.
The Mariners went quickly in their half of the ninth inning, negating a Kawasaki walk with an inning-ending ground-ball double play from Ichiro.
Wilhelmsen was back on the mound for the 10th inning – and Boston got back-to-back singles from Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz to put the Red Sox in point-blank scoring position.
Saltamacchia struck out swinging, and Wilhelmsen got Gonzalez to hit a ground ball at Ackley that looked like a sure double play. Ackley bobbled it, got only one out and Wilhelmsen had to face another hitter, this time with a man at third base.
Wilhelmsen got Will Middlebrooks to ground into a fielder’s choice that forced Gonzalez at second, and gave the Mariners yet another shot at going home winners. Kelly pitched a 1-2-3 11th inning and, this time, the Mariners took advantage.