BOSTON — It started poorly and didn’t get better.
The Seattle Mariners hope their sloppy 8-2 loss to the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday night at Fenway Park won’t be a harbinger on this East Coast trip.
This stretch features no cupcakes like recent foes Houston and Minnesota. Seattle has two more games with the Red Sox (64-44), followed by three with the Orioles (59-48). Both teams have playoff aspirations, while Seattle (50-56) is perpetually trying to reach .500.
In this first game against Boston, the Red Sox looked sharp and the Mariners did not. To have any success over the next five games, they will need to play better in every aspect.
Seattle’s best moment came in the first inning when Nick Franklin doubled to left field off Boston rookie Brandon Workman and later scored on Kendrys Morales’ single to center.
It gave the Mariners a very short-lived 1-0 lead.
From there, things went downhill quickly, starting with some shoddy fielding in the inning’s bottom half.
Shane Victorino delivered a one-out double off starter Joe Saunders, then Dustin Pedroia reached first after Brad Miller’s error on a routine ground ball to shortstop.
Victorino scored from third on a passed ball from Henry Blanco, then David Ortiz singled home Pedroia.
“We didn’t play real clean there early on,” Seattle interim manager Robby Thompson said. “Sometimes that happens.”
Miller, who also made a bad decision moments later trying to barehand a ground ball from the slow-running Jarrod Saltalamacchia, owned up to the mistakes.
“It is another level,” Miller said of making big-league miscues. “It’s the same things and you have to be better at executing them. If you don’t, it will be exposed for sure.”
In the second, Saunders’ pain was self-inflicted.
He gave up a one-out solo homer to Jacoby Ellsbury and later a two-run homer to Pedroia that made it 5-1.
“I was throwing good pitches,” Saunders said. “I wasn’t getting much help.”
When asked if he was talking about home plate umpire Chris Conroy or his defense, Saunders shrugged.
“It was just in general,” he said. “I don’t really want to talk about either because I will get myself in trouble. It was just a tough night for us. We didn’t get the breaks. And they got some breaks. It was just one of those nights.”
Then Saunders’ growing pitch count caused him more problems.
He worked a clean third inning, but gave up another double to Victorino and an RBI single to Pedroia in the fourth to make it 6-1. He worked another inning, but was done after 99 pitches, having given up six runs (five earned) on nine hits with a walk and five strikeouts. It was the seventh time this season he’s allowed six or more runs.
There was some thought he might have some value on the trade market. With the non-waiver trade deadline looming at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Saunders’ perceived value may have diminished in the past few weeks. Over his past three starts, Saunders pitched 15 innings, giving up 15 runs (13 earned) for a 7.80 earned-run average with 27 hits.
Did the trade deadline affect him?
“I don’t think so,” he said. “You just go out there and pitch. It’s out of your hands. If you can’t control it, why would you worry about it? I’d like to stay here. I love playing here. I think we have a good thing going with these guys.”
The Mariners had a chance to make it a game in the sixth. They loaded the bases against Workman with one out on three consecutive singles from Kyle Seager, Kendrys Morales and Raul Ibañez. However, Workman came back to strike out Michael Morse for the third time on the night, then struck out Justin Smoak.
“A lot could have happened in that inning, but it didn’t happen,” Thompson said.
Brandon Maurer replaced Saunders in the sixth and looked sharp early in his debut as a reliever. Maurer retired the side in order in the sixth and seventh innings.
In the eighth, he left a fastball up to Saltalamacchia, who hammered it into right-center for a two-run homer. He still pitched three innings, giving up the two runs on two hits with a strikeout and no walks.
“I thought that was big for Maurer, his first time coming out of the pen here in Boston of all places,” Thompson said. “I thought he threw the ball very well. He really helped us out.”
Seattle’s other run came in the ninth. Smoak singled and later scored on Blanco’s single off the Green Monster.
“We had our backs up against the wall early on,” Thompson said. “And we were never able to make a run at it.”
The Mariners will send right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma (10-4, 2.87 ERA) to the mound Wednesday. Boston will go with right-hander John Lackey (7-8, 3.19). First pitch is set for 4:10 p.m. The game will be broadcast on Root Sports, 1030-AM and 710-AM.Ryan Divish: 253-597-8483 email@example.com blog.thenewstribune.com/mariners @RyanDivish