One pitcher couldn't find 90 with his fastball reaching back all the way, and had to lean on changeups and breaking balls to compete.
The other was Dylan Axelrod.
Axelrod threw his assortment of trickery at the Seattle Mariners over 5⅔ effective innings, and while he didn't get the win, he helped deny Felix Hernandez his 100th victory by out-crafting him.
Axelrod only gave up one run, and it was unearned. In the second, Raul Ibanez drilled a one-out double, but Axelrod came back to strike out Justin Smoak for the second out. Then his defense failed him, with Hector Gimenez failing to catch an inside fastball for a passed ball, and Jeff Keppinger failing to snare a hop at first base to drive Ibanez in.
The defense eventually picked up in the fifth. Axelrod put the first two on, but he froze Kelly Shoppach with a slider to get some footing. Brendan Ryan then jumped on a fastball and hit a hot shot toward third, but Conor Gillaspie made a nice dive to snare it, got up, touched third and fired to first for a 5-3 double play.
Then Gillaspie fired up the offense, starting the bottom of the inning by hitting a drive over Mike Morse's head in right field. Morse had trouble collecting it off the wall, and Gillaspie legged out a triple. After Alexei Ramirez grounded out, Hector Gimenez hit a sac fly to center to tie it at 1.
One inning later, Alejandro De Aza reached to lead off the sixth. After Dewayne Wise hit a flyout to left on an unimpressive curve, Alex Rios jumped on an unimpressive 0-2 changeup and hit a no-doubter to left for his second consecutive game with a homer, giving the Sox a 3-1 lead.
Gillaspie would score again in the seventh, leading off with a single, moving to third on a double, and coming across on De Aza's sac fly to Ibanez in left. That run turned out to be huge, because Matt Thornton gave up a wind-aided, opposite-field two-run shot to Michael Saunders in the top of the eighth.
Thornton departed after giving up a one-out single, and Jesse Crain entered to promptly walk Morse. That gave Seattle the handedness advantage, but Crain hunkered down. He struck out Ibanez with a high fastball (really ugly three-quarters swing), and jammed Smoak with an inside fastball for an inning ending 3-unassisted. He was lucky Smoak put a bat on the ball, because he crossed up Gimenez, who appeared to be calling a breaking ball on the outer half. Gimenez ended up taking a bat on the bare hand while trying to defend himself, but he was no worse for the wear.
Addison Reed worked his second straight 1-2-3 inning for his third save, striking out Franklin Gutierrez and Jesus Montero with sliders.
*Donnie Veal picked up the win for pitching one inning, starting with a key strikeout of Ibanez with a pair of nasty sliders to strand two in the sixth.
*Gillaspie also hit the ground for a nice diving stab to his left, and Alexei Ramirez got down for a backhanded play, too.
*Keppinger's struggles continued, as he went 0-for-4 with a GIDP. He's hitless in his last 19 at-bats, and Gillaspie is on his tail.