The veteran outfielder kept his cool and stroked a pinch-hit double that scored two runs, leading the Mariners to a 7-6 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Friday night.
”I just tried to stay calm as possible,” Span said. ”Kind of a calm angry. This is huge for me. I’m the new guy around here and I just want to help these guys as much as I can and feel like I’m one of them.”
The Mariners acquired Span and reliever Alex Colome from Tampa Bay on May 25.
”He’s a huge addition to our club,” said Seattle manager Scott Servais. ”He has so much experience in those situations, so he understands how to slow things down. We’re going to have a lot more situations like that this season.”
Ryan Cook (1-0) got the win with a scoreless eighth inning and Edwin Diaz earned his major league-leading 26th save by working the ninth.
But Rob Whalen, who was recalled from Triple-A Tacoma on Thursday, was the difference, pitching four scoreless innings of relief.
”This team is unbelievable,” Whalen said. ”It felt like a World Series game out there tonight. I just wanted to do whatever I could to keep us in the game.”
It was the 20th time this season the Mariners have come from behind to win. Seattle is 22-10 in one-run games.
Xander Bogaerts hit a three-run homer as part of a six-run third inning that gave Boston a 6-3 lead, but a spectacular defensive play by Seattle second baseman Dee Gordon on a hard-hit ball up the middle by Bogaerts that ended the sixth inning kept the Red Sox from adding another run.
The Mariners led 3-0 when Boston sent 11 men to the plate and had six hits and walk to chase starter James Paxton. The Mariners also committed two errors in the inning.
Paxton entered the game with a 0.39 ERA and 2-0 record in three previous starts against the Red Sox. Five of the six runs against Paxton were earned. He also threw two wild pitches.
”Pax had good stuff tonight, we just didn’t help him,” Servais said. ”The defense was shaky early. Paxton has carried us this year, so it was nice to get him off the hook.”
Boston tied the game at 3 on four singles and an error by third basemen Kyle Seager, before Bogaerts hit his 11th home run.
”We had a good inning and got a lot of runs,” Bogaerts said. ”But that one big hit, seems like Span always does that against us. I remember when he did it at Tampa early on in the year. Same thing down the same line.”
Jean Segura gave the Mariners a 1-0 lead in the first inning when he launched Rick Porcello’s fastball over the scoreboard in left field, a 420-foot shot. Seattle made it 3-0 in the second.
Mike Zunino knocked in two runs, including his 11th home run of the season to start the bottom of the seventh and cut it to 6-5 before Span came through one inning later.
”With him, you have to attack,” Boston manager Alex Cora said of Span. ”He keeps working the count. He’s a veteran guy. If you’re ahead, you have to bury him and we didn’t.”
Red Sox: LHP Drew Pomeranz (left biceps tendinitis) made some throws in the outfield Friday for the first time since going on the 10-day DL on June 5, retroactive to June 2.
Mariners: RHP Juan Nicasio (knee swelling) threw in the bullpen Friday and is expected to throw live batting practice Saturday. Servais said it’s possible Nicasio could come off the 10-day DL on Tuesday in New York when the Mariners start a three-game series with the Yankees. ”He just needs to get that inflammation out of his knee,” Servais said. … RHP Nick Vincent (groin strain) will throw in the bullpen Saturday.
FILIA RETURNS: The Red Sox returned minor league OF Eric Filia to the Mariners Friday after Filia failed his physical. Filia was the player to be named in the deal that sent LHP Roenis Elias to the Mariners on April 23. The Mariners completed the trade with cash considerations.
Red Sox: RHP Steven Wright (2-0, 1.21) will take the longest active scoreless streak in baseball into Saturday’s game against the Mariners. Wright has thrown 22 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings, including back-to-back scoreless starts when he went seven innings in a win against Detroit and 6 2/3 innings in a no-decision at Baltimore.
Mariners: Wade Leblanc (7-3, 4.26) will make his ninth start of the season Saturday. Leblanc has allowed only 11 earned runs in his previous eight starts for a 2.45 ERA. The Mariners are 6-2 in those games.