Beckett comes up short in battle of aces, 5-4

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Beckett comes up short in battle of aces, 5-4

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
SEATTLE It wasnt quite the pitchers dream match-up that some predicted at Safeco Field, and Josh Beckett almost didnt make it out of the first inning.

Despite the first frame breakdown, the Sox very nearly came back against the hapless Mariners before falling by a 5-4 score at Safeco Field in a fitting debut to the Wily Mo Pena Era in Seattle.

Ichiro Suzuki made a resounding opening statement by hammering the first Beckett offering of the evening and launching it into the right field seats for a quick 1-0 lead for the Mariners. The first onslaught didnt end until five runs had crossed the plate and Seattle rookie outfielder Casper Wells had also launched his own two-run homer off the Sox ace.

After the first inning stumble, Beckett managed to get through four more innings without allowing another run, fanning six Seattle batters along the way.

But the challenge had been set with Sox facing a steep uphill climb.

It looked like the Sox were going to go out with little more than a whimper as Hernandez was dealing through the first five innings, and Bostons only rally was snuffed out when Jacoby Ellsbury was called out in a hellacious home plate collision with Josh Bard. Ellsbury was off and running on a Dustin Pedroia fly ball to right field, but Ichiro threw a one-hop bullet to home plate that beat the Sox centerfielder. Ellsburys knee caught Bard in the face and it looked like the Ms catcher bobbled the ball from glove to his throwing hand and home plate ump Mark Ripperger originally called him out.

But the umps pulled together for a conference and called Ellsbury out on a play that ended the ending. The Sox finally did catch fire in the top of the sixth as two-run homers from Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia wobbled King Felix and pulled Boston within a single run. Hernandez managed to give the Ms seven innings, but surrendered an uncharacteristic nine hits and four runs to a Sox offense that continues to impress.

The Seattle bullpen managed to navigate through the final innings, and Brandon League wrapped up his 28th save of the season in the Ms win in the middle game of their three-game series.

Player of the Game: Ichiro Suzuki. Its been an uncharacteristically down year for the Seattle right fielder used to living well above the .300 batting average mark. On Saturday the Japanese import showed why hes still got it. Ichiro slammed Josh Becketts first pitch into the right field stands for a solo home run that sparked a five-run uprising against Beckett, and once again he was the sparkplug for the Ms offense. He also showed off his defensive prowess in the fourth inning when he nailed one of the speediest base runners in the Majors, Jacoby Ellsbury, attempting to score from third base on a sacrifice fly. Ichiros one hop toss from medium right field beat Ellsbury to the plate and saved a run that proved crucial in Bostons loss.

Honorable Mention: Jacoby Ellsbury appeared to jar the ball loose in the fourth inning in a mad collision with Josh Bard at home plate, and ignited the Boston offense with a two-run bomb in the bottom of the sixth inning. The shot was 10 rows deep in the right field bleachers as Ichiro attempted his Spiderman act climbing up the wall to potentially make a play on the scalded ball. With the home run, Ellsbury became the first 2020 player for the Red Sox since Nomar Garciaparra back during the 1997 baseball season.

The Goat: Josh Beckett managed to quiet things down after nailing the pooch in the first inning, but he needed to be better from the start against Felix Hernandez. Theres no excuse for one of baseballs best pitchers to very nearly get bounced from the first inning by the worst offensive team in baseball. It appears that both John Lackey and Beckett struggled without a book against the young Seattle hitters, but eight hits, five runs and only 99 pitches in five innings isnt good enough.

Turning Point: The Red Sox could have started their comeback rally early enough if things had broken correctly, but a perfect throw from Ichiro cut down Jacoby Ellsbury at the plate during the fourth inning rally. The home plate ump appeared confused and actually called Ellsbury safe immediately after the play, but was overruled after a conference between umpires. That drew the ire of Terry Francona as he was ejected from the game, and the run proved to be key in a one-run ballgame that ended in favor of Seattle. It took a perfect throw from Ichiro and a perfect hold from Josh Bard to cut Ellsbury down at the plate, and both players executed beautifully.

By the Numbers: 6 the number of Red Sox players in the 2020 club in franchise history among a group that includes Ellis Burks, Nomar Garciaparra and John Valentin. Jacoby Ellsbury joined them with a two-run bomb on Saturday night that marked his 20th home run this year. Ellsbury is still attempting to become the first Sox player with 25 homers and 25 stolen bases in a single season.

Quote of Note: I knew the throw had to be on the money for him to get me. When it was in the air I knew it was going to be close, and unfortunately that would have been the tying run looking at it now. Great play by Ichiro and a great play by Bard to hold onto it. Jacoby Ellsbury talking about the fourth inning play that saw him get cut down at the plate in a train-wreck collision with Josh Bard that proved to be the difference in the game.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Pedroia leads Red Sox to 11th win in a row, 3-2 over Rays in 10

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Pedroia leads Red Sox to 11th win in a row, 3-2 over Rays in 10

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Dustin Pedroia used nifty baserunning to score from first base on David Ortiz's double in the 10th inning and the AL East-leading Red Sox beat the Tampa Bay Rays 3-2 on Sunday for their 11th consecutive win.

Pedroia singled off Eddie Gamboa (0-1) to start the inning. The relay throw on Ortiz's hit to right center beat Pedroia to plate but he avoided Luke Maile's first tag. Pedroia's momentum carried him past the plate and when he went back to touch it, Maile was charged with an error when the ball dropped out his glove on another tag try.

Pedroia hit a solo homer and Mookie Betts extended his hitting streak to 11 games with an RBI single for the Red Sox, who secured at least an AL wild-card spot Saturday night. Boston's magic number to clinch the division title dropped to two.

Joe Kelly (4-0) went 2 2/3 scoreless innings for the win.

Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez struck out a career-high 13 in 5 1/3 innings. The left-hander and Heath Hembree combined to strikeout 11 consecutive batters to establish a major league-record. The New York Mets held the previous mark when Tom Seaver struck out 10 in a row against San Diego on Apr. 22, 1970.

Boston also set a club record by striking out 21 through nine. Kelly added two more in the 10th.

There was a moment of silence before the game for Miami pitcher Jose Fernandez, who was killed in a boating accident early Sunday. Fernandez played high school baseball in nearby Tampa, Florida after defecting from Cuba.

The Rays planned to honor Ortiz before his final game at Tropicana Field but canceled the ceremony at Ortiz's request after Fernandez's death. He had three hits in five at-bats and moved past Frank Thomas for 107th place on the career list with 2,469 hits.

Ortiz has 35 homers and 90 RBIs at Tropicana Field, which is the most of any visiting player. Alex Rodriguez is next with 30 homers and 73 RBIs.

HONORING BIG PAPI

Rays 3B Evan Longoria and RHP Chris Archer informally presented Ortiz with an oil painting of his 500th home run, which he hit at Tropicana Field last season. Ortiz was also given 34 special handmade Diamond Crown Maximus cigars and $5,000 donations in his name to the Miracle League of St. Petersburg, Florida and the University of South Florida Latino scholarship program.

UP NEXT

Red Sox: Ortiz will play at Yankee Stadium for the final time during a three-game series against New York that starts Tuesday night. "Playing baseball in New York is something that is very special," Ortiz said. LHP David Price (17-8) will start for the Red Sox Tuesday night.

Rays: LHP Drew Smyly (7-11) will face White Sox RHP James Shields (3-11) Monday night in the first of four games in Chicago.

© 2016 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.