For the second straight series, the Red Sox escaped a sweep in the final game. This time thanks to a walk-off single from Carl Crawford that gave Boston the 3-2 win.
Ironically, of all the games in the series, this was the one that seemed least winnable. With Clay Buchholz' start being delayed due to illness, the Sox had to turn to Tim Wakefield for the spot start on Sunday. His opponent? The one, the only: Felix Hernandez. That's the 2010 Cy Young Award winner against a 44-year-old knuckleballer who last pitched even four innings back in October of 2010.
But, amazingly, Tim Wakefield not only held his own, but outdueled Hernandez for the better part of the first six innings. In fact, after Wakefield sat down the Mariners in order in the first, Hernandez found himself in some early trouble in the bottom of the inning. Singles from Dustin Pedroia and Adrian Gonzalez and a walk from J.D. Drew left Hernandez facing Jed Lowrie with the bases loaded. With the count at 2-2, Hernandez delivered a pitch even further outside the zone than the one called a ball immediately before it, but umpire Todd Tichenor reared back and called a strike, letting King Felix off the hook.
Felix did not get so lucky in the third inning, however. With another pair of singles putting him in danger, David Ortiz launched a two-run double high off the Monster to plate a apir and give the Red Sox a 2-0 lead.
Hernandez would settle down, largely dominating the Red Sox lineup from that point on. With the Knuckleball fluttering, though, it seemed almost as though the necessary damage had already been done. But then Wakefield gave up a baserunner with two outs in the sixth, and Terry Francona decided that was all he could ask for with Wakefield not properly stretched out. In came Bobby Jenks, and away went the lead.
Bobby Jenks hadn't had the greatest of starts to his career with the Red Sox so far, but his performance on Sunday really took the cake. With only one out to record, Bobby Jenks gave up a single to Miguel Olivo, and then completely lost control. The first walk came on six pitches to Justin Smoak, the second on just five to Jack Cust, bringing in a run without ever really getting close to the zone most of the time. Amazingly, he wasn't done, letting in the game tying run on a six pitch walk to Luis Rodriguez before finally escaping the inning when Carl Crawford raced down a line drive off the bat of Michael Saunders.
From there, the Red Sox and Mariners traded scoreless innings, with only a lone batter--Crawford--reaching base in the seventh. Then came the bottom of the ninth. With one out, Jed Lowrie fouled off three straight pitches, and then finally found one he could hit. The contact off the bat was hard enough that it sounded like it might leave the park. With the wind blowing in, however, it seemed like Ichiro would make the play. But the right fielder seemed to shrink as the ball got closer, fighting against the sun before having the ball bounce off his knee and towards the right field wall as Lowrie pulled into third.
Of course, this was not a situation the Red Sox had excelled in this year. In fact, bringing in runners from third with less than two outs had been almost impossible. With Marco Scutaro up to bat, the Sox just needed a sacrifice fly. Instead, they received a one-pitch ground out to third which, with the infield in, kept Lowrie standing at third.
Up came Carl Crawford, the Red Sox' last chance to win the game in regulation. While the Mariners seemed to consider walking Crawford to pitch to Jarrod Saltalamacchia, they eleceted to face the beleaguered left fielder. Big mistake. On a 1-1 pitch, Crawford shot the ball back up the middle, off the mound, and into center field for the walk-off win, finding himself mobbed by his teammates as he reached first.