32-23: Anemic Sox drop two to Seattle


When the Red Sox travel, there are always a lot of friendly faces. But when they travel to Seattle, there are family members of Jon Lester, Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury present. With the Seattle Mariners quickly sliding out of contention, this was a good chance for the Sox to buoy their road woes with some W’s. Too bad that didn’t work out. With all the games so close, you have to wonder what kind of difference it would have made to have our first baseman healthy, especially in game 3 versus a lefty starter.

Game 1: Boston 5, Seattle 3

Bartolo Colon (2-0) is giving the Sox a little bit of what they are missing with Curt Schilling out this year; wily veteran kind of stuff. Using almost 80% fastballs, he was able to scatter 5 hits and a walk, allowing just one run in 7 efficient innings of work. Colon was able to work it in and out, up and down, and got by without breaking pitches. He needed just 84 pitches (59 strikes), and that really set the stage for what would happen in the 8th. Coming from the AL West division, Colon is pretty familiar with Safeco Field, and that came in handy. Hideki Okajima and Jonathan Papelbon came on and shortened the game in a hurry.

Mariners’ starter Felix Hernandez (2-5) did his best to hold off the Red Sox, but this good lineup began to catch up to his 97 mph fastball later in the game. Hernandez held Boston to just one David Ortiz home run through the first seven innings, but the Sox managed a 4-run 8th that sealed the game. As usual, the M’s left their star righty in there a little too long, and they paid for it big time. Where’s that hook? Hernandez was clearly out of gas, giving up several hard hits and walking in a run with the bases loaded. I’d be concerned about his high pitch counts if I were John McLaren.

The Ortiz shot was a hard one to center field. When Papi starts using the whole field, you better watch out. In the 8th, they walked him to get to Manny Ramirez, who promptly belted an opposite-field RBI single. When those two get going at the same time, pitchers better run for cover. Jason Varitek narrowly missed an RBI extra base hit in the 5th when Ichiro Suzuki ran down a long fly ball in right-center. Nick Cafardo lauds Dustin Pedroia for his defense (and offense) in this one. Yeah, Pedey is heads up like that.

Kevin Youkilis sat with some minor pain in his right hand; maybe the rest will do him some good.

Game 2: Boston 3, Seattle 4

The Mariners ended a 7-game losing streak. You had to figure the M’s couldn’t keep losing forever. In search of his 9th win, Daisuke Matsuzaka had to leave the game after 4 innings with what is being called “right shoulder fatigue“. He felt something before the game, and it got worse. I think it’s basically years of overwork that could be catching up to him. Matsuzaka, like most Japanese pitchers, is used to throwing far more pitches more often than typical American throwing programs, though their season is much shorter. We have to hope that this ailment is muscular in nature, and not related to the tendons or ligaments, which could knock him out for a significant amount of time. The Sox bullpen did a pretty good job in relief, and after David Aardsma‘s shaky inning, it was all quiet for Seattle until the 9th.

Miguel Batista kept the Sox off-balance for a full five innings. After Dustin Pedroia reached on an error and David Ortiz singled in the 6th, Manny Ramirez got his 499th dinger to tie the game at 3-3. Batista finished off 7 innings, and the Seattle bullpen took it from there. Hard-throwing Brandon Morrow and J.J. Putz (2-2) pitched the 8th and 9th for the win. Putz looked like he’s fully healthy again, despite some early struggles.

Umpire Angel Hernandez is a jerk. In a highly unusual move, the third base umpire tossed Julio Lugo for questioning a checked swing call from the field, and he sent Terry Francona packing soon afterwards. Apparently there was some bad blood between him and Lugo in the past. I think he was clearly allowing personal feelings to dictate the call, and he ought to be fined by MLB, if not fired.

Mike Timlin (2-3) coughed up the game-winning run last night on a two-out single by Jose Lopez. Wladimir Balentien, who scored the winning run, had reached on an infield hit, and was moved over to third. Timlin’s sinker is getting the ground balls, but they just seem to be finding their way through the infield this year.

Kevin Youkilis sat again with an ailing hand, though Sean Casey has gone 4-8 in his absence (all singles). Youk may return for game 3.

Game 3: Boston 0, Seattle 1

I knew going against a tough lety like Erik Bedard (4-3) wasn’t good news for the Sox. There were no signs of his 2008 struggles, as he silenced the Boston bats for 7 innings, allowing just 2 hits and three walks, while striking out 8. Boston had a chance in the 4th, when they got consecutive hits by Manny Ramirez and Mike Lowell, but Sean Casey hit into a double play to end the inning. Casey almost sliced the first pitch he saw in that at-bat down the left field line, which would have scored a run. It was just foul.

Brandon Morrow just shut us down again in the 8th, and J.J. Putz came on for the save. He gave up a very loud out to right by David Ortiz, then proceeded to walk both Manny and Casey. But with two out, he just overpowered Coco Crisp and got a weak ground out to second base to end it. Are we sure he’s a fastball hitter? Really?

For those of you calling for him to go to the bullpen after his last start, Tim Wakefield (3-4) pitched a gem for the Sox, yet ended up with the loss. It was a gutsy 8 inning performance in which he gave up just 5 hits and walked nobody. The only run of the game came off the bat of Yuniesky Betancourt, who took a Wakefield fastball over the left field wall in the 3rd. Wake got some defensive assists from Ramirez and Lowell.

After walking in the 3rd, Jacoby Ellsbury was totally caught off base by a pickoff throw to 1st, but was credited with a steal when the off-target throw by first baseman MIguel Cairo glanced off of Betancourt’s glove and rolled towards shortstop. That should have been counted as an errant throw.

Speaking of errant throws, Jason Varitek, who had just come into the game in the 8th after J.D. Drew pinch-hit for Kevin Cash, missed Dustin Pedroia completely on a steal attempt by Ichiro Suzuki, and the ball sailed into centerfield, allowing the runner to advance to third with two out. I understand it’s a tight game and all, but why are you even risking that throw, as fast as Suzuki is? Just give him the defensive indifference and focus on getting the hitter out. Cairo hit it hard to third, and Lowell snagged it right up the line from the bag, turned and fired a strike to first base to end the threat. Great play there.

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