After dropping the last 2 games of their 3-game series against Oakland, the Red Sox travelled further north on their whirlwind tour through the AL West, this time going to Seattle with a number of ex-Mariners (Mike Cameron, Adrian Beltre, Scott Atchison) in Red Sox uniforms.
Thursday night went from Lackey nearly going the distance to no-hit the Seattle Mariners at SafeCo Field to the Red Sox blowing a 6-1 lead in the bottom of the 9th to force extra-innings. While Lackey allowed an unearned run in the bottom of the first after Milton Bradley reached on a walk, stole 2nd, advanced to third on a Casey Kotchman groundout before scoring on a passed ball, he gave up zero hits until the bottom of the 8th on a Josh Bard single.
Let it not be said that Lackey was left wondering where the run support was. In the top of the 3rd, Bill Hall had a 2-run homer and Big Papi drove in Marco Scutaro with an RBI single to make it a 3-1 game. JD Drew would add a 2-run homer of his own in the top of the 6th and Marco Scutaro would have a solo shot to his name in the top of the 7th to make it a 6-1 game.
It wasn't until the bottom of the 8th with two away that Seattle got their first hit of the night, with Josh Bard getting a single to center. Lackey was able to get RF Ichiro Suzuki to fly out to center to end the inning. Manny DelCarmen would come on in the bottom of the 9th and proceed to give up a 2-run homer (after allowing a Chone Figgins single) off the bat of Franklin Gutierrez to make it a 6-3 game. Jose Lopez walked and Milton Bradley would reach on an error before DelCarmen was yanked- without even recording an out. Papelbon came on to try and close it out two on and nobody out. He got Justin Smoak to strike out, but Casey Kotchamn would get an RBI double to make it 6-4. When the train wreck of an inning was over, Seattle had managed to tie the game 6-6 thanks to a Bill Hall error on Jack Wilson's fielder's choice.
So seemingly in the blink of an eye the game had gone from the Mariners being no-hit to the Red Sox playing extras against a team that was 22 games out of first place.
Seattle came pretty close to taking this one from Boston in the bottom of the 12th, but Hideki Okajima managed to deftly work his way out a a runner on 3rd with only one out situation by intentionally walking Franklin Gutierrez and getting Jose Lopez and Milton Bradley to pop out and end the inning.
Boston finally went up for good in the top of the 13th when Eric Patterson (pinch-hitting for Bill Hall) had a 2-RBI double and Ramon Ramierez would come on for a 1-2-3 bottom of the 13th to close out the game for Boston's 8-6 win.
Tonight's game got off to a similar start as Thursday night's extra-inning affair, with the biggest story being the much-anticipated return of Josh Beckett from the DL.
Beckett would give up a leadoff infield single to Ichiro Suzuki, who would eventually come around to score on a ground-rule double off the bat of Jose Lopez. But that would be all the runs Seattle could muster on Friday. Adrian Beltre would drive in Kevin Youkilis on a booming double in that tied the game at 1-1 in the top of the 4th and Bill Hall would go 1 for 3 on the night, with his only hit being a solo homer off of Mariners starter Jason Vargas in the top of the 7th.
Beckett would give up five hits, the one run, five strikeouts and three walks in his 5 and 2/3rds innings of work. However, he would not get the decision as the win went to Scott Atchison and Papelbon closed out the game after giving up a 2-out double to Jack Wilson, intentionally walking Ichiro and having Josh Wilson strike out after fouling off no less than 5 pitches. Red Sox win tonight by a final of 2-1.
As a side note, Josh Wilson entered the game after Mariner's manager Don Wakamatsu and 2B Chone Figgins had an altercation in the dugout after Figgins made no apparent effort to go after an errant throw by Micheal Saunders in the top of the 5th.
Tomorrow's game will feature Jon Lester (11-4; 2.81 ERA) against David Pauley (0-2; 2.40 ERA) while Sunday's probables are Daisuke Matsuzaka (7-3; 4.29 ERA) against Doug Fister (3-6; 3.56 ERA).
ELSEWHERE: Former Red Sox, Yankees and Tigers manager and WWII veteran Ralph Houk passed away Wednesday. Houk rose to the rank of Major while in the Army and was a player for a grand total of 91 games in the big leagues. Houk was the Yankees manager from 1961 to 1973, leaving after the first year Steinbrenner had purchased the organization. Also going by the monicker 'The Major', Houk would manage the Tigers from 1974 to 1978 and the Red Sox from 1981 to 1984.
Ralph Houk was 90.