BOSTON -- Praised all season for their grit, resilience and belief that they are never out of any game, John Farrell came up with a new way to describe the Red Sox after the miracle comeback on Thursday night.
"In a word, magical," said Farrell.
With a sudden surge of momentum, capped by Daniel Nava's walk-off single off the base of the wall in center with one out in the bottom of the ninth, Farrell's team came up with the most thrilling comeback by the home team at Fenway Park since the Mother's Day Miracle of 2007 against the Orioles.
The final score of Thursday night's thriller? Red Sox 8, Mariners 7.
Down 7-1 after seven, this was the first time the Sox won a game they trailed by six as late as the eighth inning since July 3, 1940, a 12-11 win over the Philadelphia Athletics. Before that, you'd have to go back to May 13, 1911, against the Tigers.
"Yeah it's fun to watch," said knuckleballer Steven Wright, who earned the win hours after his promotion from Triple-A Pawtucket, pitching three scoreless innings. "I mean you're like a little kid again on the edge of your seat. It was just fun and entertaining and just awesome."
To get to that point, a combination of things had to happen in a stirring six-run rally in the ninth.
First was the fact that Mariners closer Tom Wilhelmsen didn't have anything. In fact, he didn't get anybody out after coming on with a 7-2 lead.
Nava led off with a walk. Ryan Lavarnway followed with a single to center, and Brock Holt drilled an RBI double to the opposite field in left, making it a four-run game.
After Wilhelmsen walked Jacoby Ellsbury to load the bases, the Red Sox caught a big break.
Acting Mariners manager Robby Thompson meant to go to right-hander Yoervis Medina to face Shane Victorino and Dustin Pedroia, knowing all along he would call on lefty Oliver Perez to face David Ortiz.
But crew chief Gary Darling saw Thompson tap his left arm, and forced him to bring in Perez.
Victorino capitalized on Seattle's confusion, punching a single to right-center, and it was 7-5 with still nobody out at Fenway at the highest of decibel levels.
"I don't know that you ever really know it," said Farrell. "But any time you get a leadoff walk it kind of breathes a little life in you. I think after Victorino's base hit to right that brought us within two, that seemed to be not only further momentum but it was getting closer."
"I wasn't going to the left-hander," Thompson said. "I thought once I pointed to the bullpen, I had a chance to go to who I wanted. By the time I went to tap on the arm, he'd already turned around and went to the left-hander. Something learned for me. That won't happen again and I'll double check and see what that ruling is. They're probably right, but I was not going to the lefty. I was basically motioning to the 'pen and I was hoping to go to my right arm and tap on it."
If Ortiz wasn't still lurking, perhaps Perez would have been lifted after the Victorino hit. But Pedroia had the advantage of facing the lefty and he drilled an RBI single to left, and the Sox were down just one.
"Just trying to have good at-bats," Pedroia said. "That's it. You've got to take it one step at a time. We're always going to play to the end. Tonight we got a few breaks along the way and guys swung the bats well that last inning and we grinded out at-bats. It was pretty special."
Thompson finally had the matchup he wanted, as Perez struck out Ortiz. But that was the end of good fortune for the Mariners, who were swept at Fenway by the Red Sox.
Jonny Gomes, who has been clutch all season for Boston, stepped in against righty Medina and worked the best at-bat of the inning. After laying off a borderline 2-2 pitch to work the count full, Gomes banged an RBI single up the middle.
"I don't see many righties," Gomes said. "That's tough. Game on the line, that's tough. Guy I've never faced before, that's tough. You just got to get up there and simplify things. He pitched me tough, he stayed on the edges, I was able to work 'em to 3-2. Double play is a worst-case scenario. Anything else, at least we get another crack at it with one out. Just trying to put the ball in play and get a knock."
Considering Gomes hadn't even entered the game until the ninth, he made his presence felt in this one, making two terrific defensive plays in the top of the inning. First, he gunned down Kendrys Morales who tried to go from first to third on a single. And he ended the frame with a highlight-reel catch against the Green Monster to rob Endy Chavez.
Without that catch, there probably is no comeback. In the 1980s, the Detroit Pistons had a player named Vinnie Johnson who was called the Microwave for his instant offense off the bench. Gomes is doing similar things for the Red Sox.
"Like I said, that's microwave baseball right there," Gomes said. "Pretty instant. I tell you what, we're not going to stop playing. I'm not going to go over there and stop playing defense, try and keep the double play in order, throw the guy out at third, and if I have an opportunity to get up on that wall with two outs and end the inning, I'm going to do it. Give the guys a crack at it in the bottom nine."
Nava, whose role had been diminished of late during a slump, gave the Red Sox their Major League-leading 11th walk-off hit of the season, and second in as many nights.
"Is it magical? It's a lot of fun. Is it magical? I'll leave that up to you to decide," Nava said. "I don't think anyone saw that happening tonight."
This was the first time since the Mother's Day Miracle game of 2007 that the Sox won a game after trailing by five in bottom of the ninth.
Victorino's solo homer in the eighth cut the deficit to 7-2, setting up the dramatic final frame.
The epic comeback started after Felix Hernandez's departure following seven sharp innings during which he allowed one run and struck out eight.
Sox starter Ryan Dempster wasn't sharp in this one, giving up nine hits, seven runs and five walks over six innings.
With two outs and the bases loaded in the top of the fifth, Dempster served up what seemed to be a game-breaking grand slam to No. 9 hitter Henry Blanco.
With the win, the Red Sox stretched their lead in the American League East over the Rays to one game.
"Just got to keep playing for 27 outs," said Victorino. "I don't want to use the word 'magical' myself. I'll let Skip use it. But for me, I think it's one of those things, you've just got to keep playing. These are all games that you're going to look back on at the end of the season, whether you're there or you're not. Wins like this, you keep winning games like this, we're going to be some place that we want to be."