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June 27, 2007
Sox game story
SEATTLE The long road trip ended in the Northwest, but somewhere between San Diego and here, things somehow went south for the Red Sox.
In Atlanta and San Diego, the Sox continued their road mastery of National League teams, winning both series and racking up a 4-2 mark through the first six games.
But at Safeco Field, the bottom dropped out. Seattles 2-1, 11-inning heartbreaker yesterday capped a three-game series sweep for the Mariners, the first suffered by the Sox this season.
The setback yesterday was the eighth in a row for the Sox at Safeco, who must return here in another five weeks.
``Its the way (the Mariners) played us, emphasized Terry Francona, ``not the ballpark.
``Things just kind of bounced their way, said closer Jonathan Papelbon, who stranded two runners inherited from Hideki Okajima in the ninth, then blew away the Mariners in the 10th. ``Neither team deserved to lose that game.
But the Sox did, again.
Yesterdays loss was all the more maddening because of the circumstances.
Daisuke Matsuzaka was brilliant through nine innings, checking the Mariners on one run and just three hits. His command was nearly spotless with eight strikeouts and one walk.
But once more, the Sox failed to provide offensive backing. In his last five starts, during which hes 2-2 with one no-decision, the Sox have scored a total of five runs.
``I feel like I pitch better when its a tight game, said Matsuzaka, who saw his ERA drop to 3.80, ``so I cant complain about (the lack of support).
The one run against Matsuzaka was circumstantial. Coco Crisp, who has played almost flawless center field all season, made an aggressive play on a sinking liner by catcher Jamie Burke in the third. But the ball trickled behind him and Burke got to second with a double.
Ichiro Suzuki then flared a single into shallow center and Burke, running with two outs, scored from second.
The Mariners didnt score again until the 11th. Reliever Joel Pineiro, a former Mariner, was thought to be unavailable thanks to a twisted ankle, suffered before the game Monday night.
After retiring Burke on a groundout, Pineirto walked Ichiro, then left a fastball up in the zone for Jose Lopez, who drilled it off the fence in left, scoring Ichiro easily with the winning run.
``I left a pitch up, said Pineiro. ``I was trying to get a ground ball. It was supposed to be down and away, but it was up and away and he got the good part of the bat on it.
Through the first six innings, the Red Sox were held scoreless by rookie Ryan Feierbend and reliever Sean Green, though it wasnt for lack of effort.
``Early in the game, said Francona, ``we hit balls all over the ballpark and we had nothing to show for it.
In the seventh, the Sox finally broke through, with a single (J.D. Drew), sacrifice and Mariners error (Julio Lugo) and a sacrifice fly (Crisp).
But too often, the Sox batting order sputtered. David Ortiz was 0-for-5. He flied to left with two on and two out in the third, grounded to second with the bases loaded in the fifth, flied to right with a runner on first in the seventh and fanned to end the ninth. Four of his five at-bats ended Red Sox innings.
Cleanup hitter Manny Ramirez was no more productive, going hitless in five at-bats, though thanks to Ortiz, he led off in four of those at-bats.
The Sox put the leadoff man on base in the eighth and 11th, but stalled both times. In the eighth, with Youkilis (walk, passed ball) on second and two out, the Mariners elected to intentionally walk J.D. Drew to get to slumping Julio Lugo, whose has gone longer than Elvis without a hit.
Francona had lefty Eric Hinske on the bench, but the Mariners had southpaw Ryan Rowland-Smith warming and didnt want to a poor matchup. Predictably, Lugo struck out, running his hitless streak to 30 consecutive at-bats.
As a team, the Sox were 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position and stranded 11 baserunners.
``We hit some balls well today, said catcher Jason Varitek. ``But we just didnt get it together offensively.
In the first two nights, the Sox wasted 11 runs in the two losses. When they could have used some of that sock yesterday, it was nowhere to be found, sending the Sox home with a losing record on the trip, a condition they couldnt have imagined Sunday night as they left San Diego four nights ago.
Posted by Thom Cahir at 10:32 PM to McAdam
Sox game notes
SEATTLE -- Daisuke Matsuzaka ended the month of June with a sparkling 1.59 ERA, but you wouldnt know it by looking at his won-loss record.
Matsuzaka escaped with a no-decision yesterday in the Sox 2-1, 11-inning loss, but deserved far better. He tossed nine innings of one-run ball, allowing just three hits along the way.
But because the Sox didnt score for him, he didnt get the victory he deserved.
So what else is new?
In those five June starts, the Red Sox scored a grand total of five runs for him. The miracle was that Matsuzaka managed to win two of those starts last Saturday against the Padres (2-1) and June 16 against the San Francisco Giants (1-0).
The last time the Sox scored more than two runs in a game while Matsuzaka was still on the mound was May 25, when they got beat Texas 10-6.
Matsuzaka shrugged off the issue of run support after the game.
``I feel like I pitch better when its a tight game, he said, ``so I cant complain about that.
Said manager Terry Francona: ``That stuff can go in cycles. You pitch according to the score. He did everything he could today; we just didnt score. But he wasnt hanging his head.
The American League All-Star team will be chosen Sunday, before Matsuzaka gets a chance to add to his win total (9). His ERA, wins and strikeouts (110) are worthy of selection, but with teammate Josh Beckett (11-1, 3.07) a lock, and a handful of starters deserving (C.C. Sabathia, John Lackey, Justin Verlander, Dan Haren), Matsuzaka might be passed over.
The Sox made a determination yesterday that Curt Schilling (shoulder tendonitis) wont pitch again until after the All-Star break.
Schilling is eligible to come off the DL Wednesday, July 4, but hasnt thrown since being shutdown following his last start, June 18 in Atlanta.
Hell be re-examined Monday by the medical staff, at which time a throwing program will be laid out.
``He can throw now, said Francona, ``but we want him to be able to finish the season and be a consistently good pitcher.
``Ill do whatever I have to do (to get back), said Schilling as he packed his bags after yesterdays loss.
Yesterdays appearance a losing one, as it turned out was the first here for ex-Mariner Joel Pineiro.
Pineiro rolled his ankle Monday during stretching exercises and was thought to be unavailable, but at gametime, told the staff he could pitch if needed.
By the 11th, with the bullpen chewed up the first two games of the series and Hideki Okajima and Jonathan Papelbon already used, he was the choice.
``It was sore, said Pineiro of the ankle, ``but once you get out there, you dont think about the pain.
As for facing his former teammates in his former ballpark, he said: ``I thought more about (being here) the first day. Today, my mind was just focused on making a good pitch.
Yesterday was just the fifth hitless game in the last 44 for Kevin YoukilisThe Sox are 19-5 in day games this season, the best percentage in baseball. They are 12-0 at home and 7-5 on the roadLeftover from Tuesdays loss: the 14 hits the Sox collected were the most theyve had in a loss since Aug. 18, 2006, when they lost 14-11. Also, the seven runs scored were the most in a defeat this season and the most since a 10-9 setback to Kansas City on Sept. 8, 2006Coco Crisp has his 18th multi-hit game of the season and has lifted his average to .262Crisp was cut down stealing in the first for only the fifth time this season. Hes 15-for-20 in attempts this year.
Posted by Thom Cahir at 10:29 PM to McAdam
FINAL: Norfolk 6, Pawtucket 3
PAWTUCKET -- The PawSox dropped their fourth game in a row, second at home, losing to the Norfolk Tides at McCoy Stadium, 6-3.
It's been a crazy night here at the storied ballpark, so we'll have more for you after we return from the clubhouse, which should be a fun place right about now.
Posted by Joe McDonald at 9:47 PM | Permalink
Final: Mariners 2, Red Sox 1
SEATTLE -- The Red Sox wasted another superb pitching performance by Daisuke Matsuzaka today as they dropped a 2-1, 11-inning decision to the Mariners, completing Seattle's three-game sweep. It is the first tine all season the Sox have been swept in a three-game series.
More to come . . .
Posted by Sean McAdam at 8:01 PM | Permalink
Three PawSox selected to I.L. All-Star team
Pawtucket Red Sox outfielder Brandon Moss has been elected as a starter on the 2007 International League All-Star Team while lefty reliever Craig Breslow and righty reliever Travis Hughes have been selected to the team as well. The 2007 Triple-A All-Star Game will be played on Wednesday, July 11th at Isotopes Park in Albuquerque, New Mexico at 7:35 pm (EDT).
The International League All-Star team is selected by league managers & coaches (1/3), selected media representatives (1/3), and on-line fan balloting (1/3). The 2007 Triple-A Game marks the tenth straight year that All-Star teams from the International League and the Pacific Coast League will face each other (PCL leads, 5-4). The game will be played the night after the Major League All-Star Game and will be televised live on ESPN2 and broadcast live on the PawSox Radio Network (920 AM WHJJ the flagship) beginning at 7:30 pm.
Moss, 23, has made a large impact in his first season at the Triple-A level. He is currently hitting .297 while playing in all 75 PawSox games this season (most in RF) with team-highs of 13 HR (5th in the league) and 54 RBI (4th in the IL). He is also 2nd in the IL with 26 doubles, 2nd with 40 extra-base hits, and is 4th in the league with a .538 slugging pct. Moss, a Georgia native, was selected by Boston in the 8th round of the 2002 draft out of Loganville (GA) High School. Brandon was the MVP of the Eastern League Championship series last September when he led Portland (AA) to the title by hitting .361 with 5 HR & 10 RBI in 9 post-season games.
Breslow, 26, has been among the top relievers in the league for most of the season and heading into play on June 27 he was 1-1 with 1 SV and a 1.59 ERA in 25 relief appearances for the PawSox. In 39.2 innings he has allowed just 30 hits (opponents hitting .208 against him) with only 9 walks and 48 strikeouts (10.9 SO/9 IP). His ERA in home games is a mere 0.82 (2 ER in 22 IP at McCoy Stadium) and he has given up just 1 run total while working in either the 7th or 8th-innings of a game (1 run in 19.2 IP during those innings). Breslow, a native of Trumbull, CT, was signed by the Red Sox as a minor league free agent in February of 2006. He made his major league debut with San Diego in 2005 and had three different stints with the Boston Red Sox last season (going 0-2, 3.75 in 13 RA). A molecular biophysics and biochemistry major at Yale University (2002 graduate) was selected to the 2006 IL All-Star team but did not pitch in the All-Star game at Toledo because he was being promoted to Boston the next day (July 12).
Hughes, 29, has also been brilliant out of the PawSox bullpen this year going 4-3 with a 1.31 ERA along with a team-high 7 saves in 30 relief appearances. His line is 41.1 IP with just 25 hits allowed (opponents batting .179) with only 2 HRA and 35 strikeouts. He took over as PawSox closer at the end of May after posting a scoreless streak of 17 consecutive innings from May 9-28. Hughes, the former Washington National who made 22 relief appearances for the Nationals the last two seasons, was originally drafted by Texas in 1997 and pitched for the Rangers briefly in 2004. Last year he made 51 RA for the New Orleans Zephyrs of the PCL and posted a 2.32 ERA. He was signed by the Red Sox as a free agent last December.
Some other notable PawSox players who have appeared in the Triple-A All-Star Game since the event began in 1988 include: INF Tim Naehring (1990), 3B Scott Cooper & OF Phil Plantier (1991), Brian Rose (1997), Trot Nixon (1998), Tomo Ohka (2000), and RHP Bronson Arroyo (2003).
--PAWTUCKET RED SOX
Posted by Corey Bourassa at 4:31 PM to PawSox
Update from McCoy Stadium
The International League All-Star roster was just announced and three PawSox players have made the team. Pitchers Craig Breslow and Travis Hughes, along with outfielder Brandon Moss have been selected to play in the Triple-A All-Star game on July 11 at Albuquerque, New Mexico.
The PCL team will be announced tomorrow.
Posted by Joe McDonald at 4:13 PM | Permalink
Update from Seattle: No Schilling until after All-Star Game; today's lineups
To little surprise, the Red Sox announced this morning that Curt Schilling won't pitch before the All-Star break. Schilling is eligible to come off the DL Wednesday, July 4, but he hasn't throw at all since being shut down last week and being ready to take a turn next week is unrealistic.
Schilling will be re-evaluated Monday in Boston and the Sox will go from there.
J.D. Drew is out of the lineup today against rookie lefty Ryan Feierabend, with Wily Mo Pena getting the start in right.
Julio Lugo lugs his burdensome 0-for-29 slump back into the lineup.
Joel Pineiro's right ankle remains, in the words of Terry Francona, ``puffy,'' and he would seem unavailable this afternoon.
Coco Crisp CF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
David Ortiz DH
Manny Ramirez LF
Kevin Youkilis 1B
Mike Lowell 3B
Jason Varitek C
Wily Mo Pena RF
Julio Lugo SS
Daisuke Matsuzaka P
Ichiro Suzuki CF
Jose Lopez 2B
Jose Vidro DH
Richie Sexson 1B
Ben Broussard LF
Jose Guillen RF
Adrian Beltre 3B
Yuniesky Betancourt SS
Jamie Burke C
Ryan Feierabend P
Posted by Sean McAdam at 2:50 PM | Permalink
Sox Streakers for May 27
-Daisuke Matsuzaka, 2-2 with a 1.73 E.R.A. in four starts this month.
-Kevin Youkilis, eight-game hitting streak, during which he has gone 11 for 29 (.379)
-Coco Crisp, has hit safely in 11 of 12 games, gooing 19 for 42 (.452) during that time
-J.D. Drew, 13 for 38 (.342) over his last 10 games
-For Seattle: Jose Lopez, five-game hitting streak, during which he is 7 for 19 (.368)
-Julio Lugo, 0 for his last 29, the longest hitless streak of his career. It's the longest streak for a Red Sox player since Tim Naehring went 0 for 39 in early 1991.
-Manny Ramirez, 1 for his last 11.
-For Seattle: Yuniesky Betancourt, 4 for 25 (.160) on current homestand.
Red Sox vs. Ryan Feierabend
-Feierabend has never faced Boston, and no active Red Sox player has an at-bat against him.
Mariners vs. Daisuke Matsuzaka
-Jose Guillen, 3 for 5 (.600)
-Yuniesky Betancourt, 2 for 5 (.400)
-Kenji Johjima, 2 for 6 (.333)
-Jose Lopez, 2 for 6 (.333)
-Jose Vidro, 2 for 6 (.333)
-Adrian Beltre, 1 for 5 (.200)
-Richie Sexson, 1 for 5 (.200)
-Raul Ibanez, 0 for 5
-Ichiro Suzuki, 0 for 5
-Matsuzaka is 0-1 with a 7.50 E.R.A. in two starts against Seattle.
-All-time series: Boston 193, Seattle 142
-Boston has lost seven straight at Safeco Field. The Sox are 9-22 in Seattle since May 2, 2002.
-The Red Sox are trying to avoid their first three-game sweep of the season.
-Boston has the majors' best record in day games: 19-4.
-Reliever Eric O'Flaherty last night became the second pitcher in Mariners history to start a season 5-0. Julio Mateo did it twice: in 2003 and 2004. The Red Sox' Joel Pineiro started two seasons 4-0 for Seattle: in 2000 and 2001.
-Helpful hint from the Ms: Feierabend's name is pronounced "feer-a-bend."
Posted by Mike McDermott at 2:32 PM to Projo Sox Streakers
Today's Manny report: He's an ironman, relatively speaking
Manny Ramirez may not have been in the starting lineup last night, but he remains the team leader in games played, with 74. Coco Crisp, David Ortiz, Kevin Youkilis and Mike Lowell have all appeared in 71.
The Seattle Post Intelligencer's baseball blog hinted before the game that the decision to keep Ramirez out of the starting lineup may have been a sign of respect for Mariners starter Felix Hernandez, who had shut down Ramirez (and every other Red Sox hitter) in his first two starts against Boston. But I'm sure Ramirez would have rather faced "King Felix" last night than J.J. Putz.
The Detroit Free Press is urging readers to vote en masse for Magglio Ordonez to start the All-Star Game (at Manny's expense). Ray Ratto of the San Francisco Chronicle is among those applauding the fans for putting Ordonez in the lead.
This is from a Q&A on the Cleveland Plain Dealer's site: The game-winning run in the first regular-season game ever played at Jacobs Field -- a 4-3 Indians victory over Seattle -- was driven in in the 11th inning by one Wayne Kirby. That was April 4, 1994. As the season went along, a certain rookie would emerge and make sure that that Kirby did not have more big highlights to celebrate.
Posted by Mike McDermott at 1:23 PM to Projo Mannybeingmanny
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: What Youk brings to the table
Sean McAdam is back this morning for another edition of projo SoxTalk. Click here to listen to the full audio file. As he gets ready for today's afternoon series finale in Seattle, he discusses Kason Gabbard's shaky performance last night, Daisuke Matsuzaka's history with Seattle, and the tremendous year that Kevin Youkilis is having.
Here are some excerpts from Sean's comments.
On Gabbard last night, did he get rattled? "Both Gabbard and Francona thought it was more a matter of delivery when he got into his stretch with a base runner on, and that he couldn't kind of straighten it out. Gabbard said he was a little too quick with his fastball. I don't think it was him being rattled or unnerved; Gabbard had pitched in the big leagues before -- in fact he had made his major league debut in this very ballpark last year -- so it doesn't seem as if it was anything that affected him psychologically or anything, it was just some poorly timed mechanical flaws that made it difficult for him to throw strikes."
On Matsuzaka vs. Seattle: "He got them in the first home series of the year, there was a one-game makeup [of a rainout] back in May where he pitched, and now this, and it is pretty rare for someone outside your division to face you three times in the first 75 games or so. And it will be interesting to see -- given that they do have a little bit of history here, and of course anytime these two teams meet often the focus is the matchup between Matsuzaka and Ichiro, so that's its own little subplot there -- but other than teams outside the American League East, there haven't been a lot of teams that have gotten multiple looks at Dice-K, so it will be interesting to see what kind of adjustments they make and, correspondingly, what he does."
On what Youkilis brings to the Sox: "I think a great deal on both sides of the ball. He grinds out at-bats, never gives an at-bat away. Last couple of nights he's been one of the few bright spots offensively: he had the two-run double in the ninth in the opener here on Monday, had a couple good at-bats last night. It seems like he never slumps. He's always collecting one or two hits. I think he has hit safely in somethihg like 39 of his last 43 games. He's developed a little bit more power this year and ability to drive the ball. And then there's the defensive side, where he's playing a position that is not his natural position, but Youkilis has put the time in and made himself an above-average, certainly, first baseman in a relatively short period of time."
Posted by Mike McDermott at 11:33 AM to McAdam
Baseball Today: Wednesday, June 27
|THAT WAS THEN, THIS IS NOW: When last we saw Kason Gabbard, he was shutting down the Atlanta Braves and making the Red Sox feel oh-so-good about their pitching depth. They're probably not feeling as good this morning, as Gabbard (AP Photo, left) allowed more than half the men he faced to reach base -- six hits, six walks and a hit batsman in 21 Seattle trips to the plate -- and lasted only 3 1/3 innings as the Sox lost to the Mariners, 8-7. The Sox have now dropped seven straight games at Safeco Field, which, as Sean McAdam points out, ''is fast becoming what Royals Stadium was to another generation of Red Sox players.'' (To wit: The Red Sox went 15-34 in Kansas City from 1976-84, but that's just part of it. Their five-losses-in-six-games weekend there just after the All-Star break in 1976 got manager Darrell Johnson fired, and they suffered late-season sweeps in '77 and '79 that crippled, if not totally derailed, their divisional chances.) Nothing as mortally wounding is happening, or can happen, at Seattle this time around, but they do make another trip there in August . . .|
THE HOUSE'S MONEY: That's what the Sox were playing with last night as both the Blue Jays and Yankees lost well before the Boston game was over, meaning the Red Sox knew their A.L. East lead would stay in double digits no matter what happened. Seattle manager Mike Hargrove, who had plenty of experience doing so while managing the Indians in the 1990s, talks about what it's like to play with a big first-place lead. (Boston Herald)
THE HALF-FULL PORTION OF THE GLASS: Kevin Youkilis got his name in the record books defensively, and he continues to light it up offensively. (Both stories projo.com)
YOU CAN MEASURE DEFENSE WITH STATISTICS: The Red Sox have numbers that prove Coco Crisp (Journal photo by Bob Breidenbach, above) is indeed having the superlative season defensively that we sense he is. (projo.com) In fact, Red Sox defensive metrics say he's having one of the all-time great years with the glove, which could mean he'll be safe come the trading deadline.
NOT GONNA HAPPEN: It appears the Red Sox are out of the Mark Buehrle Sweepstakes. (Boston Herald) And why? Because, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, Buehrle is about to sign a contract extension with the White Sox.
NO RELIEF: The Yankees' bullpen failed them again, as Scott Proctor walked in the winning run -- after the loading the bases on a hit and two walks -- in the bottom of the ninth in Baltimore. (New York Daily News) And maybe we're seeing the start of some internal grumbling, as Andy Pettitte, according to the LoHud Yankee blog, ''seemed to question whether his teammates cared as much as he did.''
ALL BETTER: Johnny Damon says a trip to an Orlando chiropractor on Monday uncovered that his problem was ''four out-of-place ribs,'' not an abdominal strain, and he feels ''like a different person'' after being treated. (New York Daily News)
YOU'RE ON, BIG GUY: The New York Post's Mike Vaccaro thinks the Yankees ''need [Roger Clemens] tonight in a way they so rarely needed him his first time around in pinstripes'' and that this will show whether Clemens can actually give the Yanks something ''other than an age-defying workout every five days.''
OLD-TIMERS' DAY: Clemens is one of seven pitchers over the age of 40 scheduled to start today. (espn.com)
THE BIG 33: The Newark Star-Ledger lists 33 things you might not know about Derek Jeter as he turns 33.
RUN, DO NOT WALK, OUT OF HERE: ESPN's Mike Greenberg strongly urges Alex Rodriguez to flee the Yankees well before he turns 33.
NOT YET: Willie Randolph proclaimed the Mets' struggles to be ''over'' before they took the field last night. Then they played the game. (New York Daily News)
DON'T STOP BELIEVING: Michael Salfino says there's reason to think Carlos Delgado's season-long slump is just a slump, and not the end of the trail. (sny.tv) Maybe so, counters the New York Post's Kevin Kernan, but he still deserves to be booed by Mets fans.
ONE-STOP SHOPPING: There are a lot of individual baseball milestones about to be reached, and SI.com's Tom Verducci lists them all.
IF AT FIRST YOU DON'T SUCCEED . . . According to the Washington Post, the Orioles may make another run at trying to convince Joe Girardi to be their manager, though probably not until the end of the season.
EXTRA, EXTRA, READ ALL ABOUT IT! Michael Barrett, traded by the Cubs to the Padres last week, says negative stories about him began popping up in the Chicago media after he left ''because editors wanted stories that would sell papers.'' (Chicago Tribune)
JUST CAN'T GET ENOUGH GOOD LABOR TALK: The Biz of Baseball Blog cites a Sports Business Journal article that says MLB may be colluding to keep signing bonuses for amateur draft players down.
BLAST FROM THE PAST I: As Frank Thomas thinks about shooting for 600 home runs, he remembers Walt Hriniak, a polarizing figure as both Red Sox and White Sox hitting coach. (Toronto Star)
BLAST FROM THE PAST II: Aaron Boone may be sidelined for three weeks because of a bad knee. (mlb.com)
'EARTH TO PIRATES': Bob Smizik thinks the Pirates' proclamations that they're better than their record are ludicrous, and changes need to be made. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
LOCAL BOYS: Ex-Providence College star John McDonald has won the starting shortstop job with the Blue Jays. (Toronto Globe and Mail)
WHISPERS: The Dodgers are the latest team rumored to be interested in Jermaine Dye (Chicago Tribune) . . . Padres GM Kevin Towers said the Pads had ''mild interest'' in Milton Bradley, who was designated for assignment last week by the A's, but talks with Oakland ''never got very far'' (San Diego Union-Tribune) . . . Remember yesterday's note that Jacque Jones was about to be traded? Apparently he was, but the deal to the Marlins hit a snag (South Florida Sun-Sentinel) . . . Any thoughts the Orioles had about trading Miguel Tejada ended when he broke his wrist (Washington Post).
OLD FRIENDS: Kelly Shoppach had a night to remember for the Indians Unfortunately, he had it at the expense of Alan Embree (ESPN.com) . . . Pedro Martinez threw 45 pitches of batting practice yesterday (New York Daily News) . . . Shea Hillenbrand wants out of Anaheim (Los Angeles Times).
-- ART MARTONE
Posted by Art Martone at 7:03 AM | Permalink
Late Red Sox notes
BY SEAN McADAM
Journal Sports Writer
SEATTLE -- Kason Gabbard turned in the shortest start of the season -- 3 1/3 innings -- last night and the shortest start for a Red Sox starter since Kyle Snyder last Sept. 24 in Toronto . . . Kevin Youkilis extended his hitting streak to eight games and has hit safely in 39 of his last 43 games . . . Eric Hinske, getting a rare start in left field, has three hits in his last seven at-bats -- and they're all for extra bases. Hinske homered to right Tuesday night in the sixth. The other hits were a homer and a double.
Posted by Sean McAdam at 2:22 AM | Permalink
Game story -- Sox can't catch up, lose to Mariners, 8-7
BY SEAN McADAM
Journal Sports Writer
SEATTLE – For the second night in a row, the Red Sox got into their bullpen way ahead of schedule. Predictably, for the second night in a row, it didn’t end well for them.
Kason Gabbard, promoted from Pawtucket to take the spot of Curt Schilling, lasted just 3 1/3 innings in his second major-league start of the season and the four relievers who followed him didn’t fare much better in an 8-7 defeat to the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday.
The loss, Boston’s second in a row, puts the Sox in position to be swept in a three-game series for the first time this season. The Sox have lost seven in a row at Safeco Field, which is fast becoming what Royals Stadium was to another generation of Red Sox players in the 1970s.
Each time the Sox drew closer, the Mariners tacked on to their advantage. Despite 14 hits, the Sox never led after a brief 1-0 edge in the top of the first.
It didn't seem to matter that the Sox got more hits against Seattle phenom Felix Hernandez in the first two at-bats than they did in an entire game back on April 11, or that they knocked him around for six runs on 11 hits.
They had bigger problems of their own -- their own pitchers.
''I thought we showed a lot of fight and spirit to come back,'' said Terry Francona.
But the Sox always seemed to be one hit shy of taking the game back. They stranded 10, but five of those were left at third base and another two on second. They didn’t just strand runners – they completely abandoned them.
''It was,'' acknowledged Francona, ''a tough night. We were fighting uphill all the way.''
Their last, best shot came in the eighth when Coco Crisp worked a leadoff walk and Dustin Pedroia followed by blooping a single into right as Crisp scooted to third.
But Seattle brought in George Sherrill from the bullpen and he fanned David Ortiz. Closer J.J. Putz was then summoned with five outs to go and after allowing a sacrifice fly to center to Kevin Youkilis, retired J.D. Drew on a groundout, as pinch-runner Julio Lugo was stranded at second.
Putz shifted into overdrive in the ninth, striking out the side – Mike Lowell, Jason Varitek and pinch-hitter Manny Ramirez.
''He’s one of the best,'' said Francona. ''He did the job right when he had to.''
Without Joel Pineiro, who twisted an ankle during stretching exercises prior to Monday’s opener and was unavailable last night, the Sox had some unfavorable matchups in the middle innings and they cost them.
Manny Delcarmen bailed Gabbard out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the fourth, but -- after his teammates had surged back and tied the game, 4-4, with two runs in the top of the fifth -- was tagged for two runs of his own in the fifth on two singles, a hit batsman and a sacrifice fly.
Boston tied the game again, 6-6, with two runs in the sixth. But in the bottom of the inning, lefty Javy Lopez had to face right-hander Richie Sexson with Jose Vidro on first and gave up a two-run homer, giving the Mariners the lead for good.
Trailing 4-1 after two innings, the Sox began to claw back in the third.
Crisp reached on an error, took second on a groundout to the left side and scored on the first of Ortiz’ three singles.
But after Youkilis singled Ortiz to third, the Sox’ inning fizzled on fielder’s choice by Drew and a spectacular diving grab by Seattle second baseman Jose Lopez, who gloved a bullet from Lowell that seemed ticketed for center field.
The Sox knotted the game in the fifth when Lowell drove a ball off the top of the fence of left – missing a home run by inches – and landing on third with a two-run triple as Ortiz (single) and Drew (single) scored ahead of him.
But with Lowell on third, Hernandez fanned Varitek, marking the fourth time in the first five innings that the Sox had ended an inning with a baserunner on third.
Gabbard’s start was, to be charitable, ineffective.
''When I was warming up, I felt great,'' said Gabbard. ''But after (striking out) Ichiro (Suzuki to open the game), I got out of the groove and couldn’t get back. Out of the stretch, I was a little too quick with my fastball.''
''He struggled with his command, obviously,'' said Francona, who made it a point to note that Gabbard would make his next scheduled start, Monday against Texas. ''He had a lot of deep counts and a lot of walks.''
In the first inning alone, he walked four and hit another, spotting the Mariners three runs. An inning-ending double-play from Yuniesky Betancourt bailed him out of further trouble, as the Mariners stranded two.
The lefty got himself right back into trouble in the second, allowing a leadoff homer to Willie Bloomquist, then surrendering singles to Ichiro and Jose Lopez. But once more, a double play – this one from Vidro – saved him and Gabbard did the rest, fanning Sexson with Ichiro anchored at third.
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