The Red Sox were in perfect position to snap their losing streak. Then Koji Uehara pitched his worst game in a Boston uniform.
In one quick inning, the Red Sox went from up 3-0 in a game that seemed unlosable, to down 5-3 with three outs in the bottom of the ninth. All thanks to the worst performance of Koji Uehara's Red Sox career.
For five innings, the Red Sox were held predictably scoreless, with Felix Hernandez proving his usual dominant self. There was no sign of the no-hitter Matt Shoemaker flirted with, as both Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz reached on first-inning singles. But Yoenis Cespedes grounded into a double play, ending both the inning, and Boston's best chance of putting a run on the scoreboard in the first half of the game. A one-out double in the fourth, once again from David Ortiz, was the only other hit the Red Sox managed before the sixth.
More concerning than their inability to hit King Felix, however, was his hitting the Red Sox. In the fifth inning, an 89 MPH changeup caught Xander Bogaerts on the helmet. Bogaerts remained conscious, and stayed in the game for an inning, but later left over concerns he may have suffered a concussion.
Bogaerts was not the only man to deal with physical concerns on the night. Through four innings, Joe Kelly had been every bit as effective as Felix Hernandez on the mound. Kelly had faced the minimum in the first three, erasing a third-inning single with a double play before working around a leadoff walk in the fourth. The fifth, however, saw Kelly hit a batter and walk two more, loading the bases before getting a pop-up from Austin Jackson to end the inning. While Kelly was still working on the shutout, however, the Red Sox apparently saw something they didn't like, removing their starting pitcher for precautionary reasons.
If the injuries were bad news for the Red Sox, the sixth inning at least brought some consolation. With Daniel Nava doubling to lead off the frame, and David Ortiz drawing the intentional walk, Yoenis Cespedes once again came to the plate with two men on and a chance to give his team a lead. He did that and then some, launching a 2-2 pitch over the Monster for a three-run shot that broke the scoreless tie in emphatic fashion.
The sixth, seventh, and eighth innings were not entirely easy for the Red Sox after Joe Kelly's early exit. Craig Breslow and Tommy Layne allowed the Mariners to put runners in scoring position in all three innings. But they managed to keep the lead intact until the ninth, handing the ball off to Koji Uehara with a three-run lead. For two years, that's been enough to win the game without fail.
Tonight, though...tonight something was different. This was not the Koji Uehara we have grown used to. Boston's closer gave up just a flare to left in the process of getting his first two outs of the night, but the third just would not come. Seven straight two-strike pitches to Endy Chavez failed to end the game, ultimately resulting in a walk. Chris Denorfia blooped a fastball to right to load the bases, and Austin Jackson jumped on the usually unhittable spliter, bouncing it off the Monster for a two-run double.
Still, Uehara had a one-run lead, and when Dustin Ackley popped the ball up into shallow left field, it seemed like the sort of weak contact that would end the game. But as Brock Holt and Yoenis Cespedes converged, it became clear the ball was placed perfectly. Holt went into a desperate dive, but his best efforts were no use. Ackley's pop-up fell in, bringing two more runs around to score and leaving the Red Sox behind 4-3. A Robinson Cano RBI single proved little more than salt in the wound, as the Red Sox managed only a walk in the bottom of the ninth, falling 5-3.
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