While I'll be the first to admit that the last couple of seasons have left me jaded, I wasn't expecting things to turn around this quickly for the Red Sox organization.
Since the All-Star break, we've seen the Red Sox take two out of three against the Yankees at Fenway [including a walkoff homer in extra-innings on a nationally televised game- NANESB!], Lester return to form in a solid start against an AL East opponent, a huge announcement involving the retention of Dustin Pedroia and one of the most sought-after players at the trade deadline land in Boston. And that was in the span of less than two weeks.
As the calendar quite literally flipped over from July to August, the Red Sox were still on the diamond- deadlocked at 4-4 after Mariners 3B Kyle Seager hit a solo homer off of Junichi Tazawa in the top of the 8th.
Although Seattle managed to get plenty of runners on base in extra innings, they were left stranded while it seemed as though the Red Sox couldn't get any runners on once the game went beyond 9.
Jared Wickerham- Getty
But with two out and bases loaded in the bottom of the 15th, Stephen Drew gave Boston the belated walkoff win with an RBI single to right field, with a 4-5 final. The win, coupled with the Arizona Diamondbacks shutting out the Tampa Bay Rays earlier that night, gave the Red Sox sole possession of first place in the AL East.
On Thursday, the Red Sox would end up facing Felix Hernandez. I gotta be honest- with King Felix going up against Ryan Dempster and a depleted Red Sox bullpen, I was ready to cede the game to Seattle. It looked as though my less-than-optimistic projections were set to come true when the Mariners jumped out to a 7-1 lead in the top of the 5th.
What happened starting in the 8th inning defies belief but makes me think that this team has that special something like the 2004 "idiots". Shane Victorino led off the bottom of the 8th with a seemingly meaningless solo homer to make it 7-2. But the Mariners escaped the 8th without any further damage before Tom Wilhelmsen came on in the bottom of the 9th to close out the game for Seattle and immediately walked Daniel Nava and gave up a single to Ryan Lavarnway before Nava came home on a Brandon Snyder RBI double to make it 7-3. After Jacoby Ellsbury was walked to load the bases with nobody out, Oliver Perez came out of the pen, only for Victorino to hit a 2 RBI single, making it a 7-5 game. Pedroia would than hit an RBI single to make it a 1-run game before Perez got Big Papi to strike out for the first out of the inning.
Already with a spectacular defensive play that sent him crashing into the Monster on Thursday night, Boston outfielder Johnny Gomes decided that wasn't enough and drove in the game-tying run with a single to shallow center field. Into the batters box stepped SS Stephen Drew with the chance to be the hero again, but he ultimately got on base after being walked by Perez. Instead, it would be up to Daniel Nava- who apparently decided he had enough of this extra-innings crap.
Red Sox win by an 8-7 final on an improbable 9th inning rally. completing a 3-game sweep of the Mariners and extending their AL East lead over the idle Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday night.
On Friday night, interleague play at Fenway resumes when the Arizona Diamondbacks come to town for a weekend series. Jon Lester [10-6; 4.27 ERA] is scheduled to go up against Randall Delgado [3-3; 2.85 ERA]. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET and the game will be televised on NESN as well as the MLB network in some markets.