The Red Sox and Mariners are set to kick off their four-game series with a matchup between Felix Hernandez and Franklin Morales.
We'll keep those of you still awake up-to-date on all the action as it goes down in Seattle.
Red Sox 0, Mariners 0, Mid 9th -- In attempting to win the game, the Sox may have just shot themselves in the foot. After a one-out single and walk from David Ortiz and Jarrod Saltalamacchia respectively, the Sox pull Ortiz from the game for a pinch runner in Brent Lillibridge as Adrian Gonzalez steps to the plate against a worn-down Felix Hernandez. After getting ahead 3-0, Gonzalez has the count run full swinging at two pitches on the outside edge of the plate, and then fouls off a series of good pitches before sending a long fly ball to left-center. Unfortunately, it stays in the air for just barely too long, allowing Michael Saunders to run it down for the out. On the very next pitch, Will Middlebrooks pops out, and Felix Hernandez is through nine scoreless.
Red Sox 0, Mariners 0, End 8th -- Andrew Miller enjoys a 1-2-3 eighth on just seven pitches, without a single ball leaving the infield. He seems to really be finding his niche in the pen this year.
Red Sox 0, Mariners 0, Mid 8th -- Facing Felix Hernandez is hard enough. Facing Felix Hernandez when he's got Casper Wells looking for all the world like the best fielder ever is something else entirely. Coming in on a Mike Aviles line drive, Wells robs the Sox of a one-out hit, then almost immediately thereafter ranges all the way to the foul line and makes a sliding grab on a slicing liner from Daniel Nava, crashing into the wall but holding on all the way for the out. Unbelievable stuff.
Red Sox 0, Mariners 0, End 7th -- Much like Felix, Morales gets in trouble with a line drive single, exacerbates said trouble with a wild pitch, and then manages to escape the inning unharmed. He even gets the foul tip strike three for the second out, though Miguel Olivo is right to protest that the ball hit the dirt before the glove. Things get a little dicey when Adrian Gonzalez can't handle an easy toss from the mound for what would have been the third out, but another ground ball, this time to third, gets Morales out of the inning.
Red Sox 0, Mariners 0, Mid 7th -- The Red Sox actually get one-and-a-half at bats with a runner in scoring position, as Adrian Gonzalez singles to left field and then moves to second on a very wild pitch. Unfortunately, the rest of Hernandez' pitches are not so wild, leaving Will Middlebrooks and Cody Ross both the victims of the strikeout.
Red Sox 0, Mariners 0, End 6th -- Back and forth we go. The Mariners get their second hit of the night, but of course even that is just an infield single, with Mike Aviles making a good play to keep a well-aimed ground ball from getting through, but not having any play at first afterwards. At 90 pitches, the recently-converted Morales is likely not long for this game, but he's done one hell of a job of keeping up with Felix, even if it did come against the Mariners' lineup.
Red Sox 0, Mariners 0, Mid 6th -- Unfortunately, not only is Felix Hernandez rolling, striking out Dustin Pedroia in between ground balls from Daniel Nava and David Ortiz, he's also rolling efficiently. The Sox are not simply failing to score, they're going down in a hurry, leaving Hernandez shy of 80 pitches six innings into the game. That means Boston will have to go to its bullpen first barring a big shift in Felix' momentum.
Red Sox 0, Mariners 0, End 5th -- Franklin Morales allows another baserunner, walking Dustin Ackley with two outs, but a ground ball from Brendan Ryan is fielded smoothly by Mike Aviles, who makes the throw to second for the out.
Red Sox 0, Mariners 0, Mid 5th -- No question: Hernandez and Moralez are dueling. With the benefit of a wide strike zone, neither one seems ready to give up anything significant through the first four-and-a-half innings. Cody Ross is a victim of an inside strike call, Ryan Kalish has to expand the zone with two strikes and goes down chasing a pitch away, and Mike Aviles pops out to end the fifth in a hurry. Quite the performance from both starters so far.
Red Sox 0, Mariners 0, End 4th -- Scary moments at Safeco in the fourth. After the Mariners pick up their first hit of the game--a ground ball single into center--an errant pick off throw ends up smashing into the side of Franklin Gutierrez' face. Gutierrez stays on the ground for a while before being helped to the dugout, where he now appears to be chewing gum (a good sign, one has to imagine). Morales manages to get the three outs he needs without giving up the run, but he does take a good few pitches to do so, undoing the good of the short-order first-through-third.
Red Sox 0, Mariners 0, Mid 4th -- The Sox pick up another baserunner when Jarrod Saltalamacchia hits a bloop single by effectively throwing his bat at a pitch low-and-away. But Adrian Gonzalez quickly strikes out on a very low pitch, and while Will Middlebrooks got his bat on the ball, it went straight to first base for a line drive out.
Red Sox 0, Mariners 0, End 3rd -- Franklin Morales shows only the smallest sign of slowing down, walking Brendan Ryan with two outs. Ichiro is once again made to play the fool, however, going way out of the zone to ground a weak ball to Dustin Pedroia to end things.
Red Sox 0, Mariners 0, Mid 3rd -- The Sox get a big opportunity in the third, but just can't quite take advantage. A sof two-out line drive for Mike Aviles breaks up Hernandez' run of eight straight Sox retired, and Daniel Nava quickly puts a runner in scoring position with a ground ball that finds the hole between second and first. Now with two on and two down, Dustin Pedroia gets a pitch to hit, and hits it a long way. Unfortunately for the Sox, the ball doesn't tail far enough away from Franklin Guttierez, who runs it down in deep center for the out.
Red Sox 0, Mariners 0, End 2nd -- Step-for-step goes Morales with Hernandez. A fly ball, pop-up, and strikeout get him out of the second without a baserunner allowed, the K coming on a mean curve heading back into the zone that had Justin Smoak swinging through it for the out.
Red Sox 0, Mariners 0, Mid 2nd -- King Felix needs no help from the umps in the second; the Sox are content to swing at his breaking balls all night long, wherever they may land. Jarrod Saltalamacchia is, unsurprisingly, the first victim, hacking at a slider in the dirt. And after an easy Adrian Gonzalez ground ball, it's Will Middlebrooks being taken for a ride on a changeup away.
Red Sox 0, Mariners 0, End 1st -- If you had to compare them, Franklin Morales has now out-pitched Felix Hernandez through one inning. It takes Morales just four pitches to strike out Ichiro swinging at an off-speed pitch that ends up low-and-away, two more to get a fly ball out to center from Franklin Guttierez, and then another five to catch Kyle Seager watching a pitch on the corner. Quite the start.
Red Sox 0, Mariners 0, Mid 1st -- The Red Sox receive an ill omen on the very first at bat of the night. After falling behind 3-0, Felix Hernandez battles back to work the count full, and then delivers a pitch will off the plate. As Daniel Nava gets ready to head down to first, however, the ump rings him up. If Felix gets that call, it could be a long night. Or perhaps a very short one, as demonstrated by Dustin Pedroia, who hits a ground ball back to Felix Hernandez just two pitches later. David Ortiz does manage to get good wood on the ball, but for all that it looks like a homer swing, it produces just a line drive which Ichiro can field in his tracks.