SEATTLE — OK, maybe it just looked bad. Worse than it really was. Maybe if left fielder Rickie Weeks makes two clean plays Thursday night in the ninth inning, nothing changes.
Maybe the Seattle Mariners still see a pitchers’ duel veer away from them at the end in a 2-1 loss to the Boston Red Sox at Safeco Field.
That’s the way the Mariners saw it.
But, boy, it sure looked sloppy.
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Weeks had just replaced Brad Miller as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning. Miller was playing his first professional game as an outfielder and had handled the only chance he had without incident.
Things changed when Weeks, another long-time infielder, went to left field in the ninth with a total of 57 innings of outfield experience. All of it coming this season.
Brock Holt led off with a liner into the left-center gap against Fernando Rodney. The Mariners were in a no-doubles defense, but Weeks didn’t come close to catching the ball.
“I don’t anybody catches that ball,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “It’s in the gap.”
Holt never slowed around first and made second easily when Weeks airmailed the throw well beyond the reach of second baseman Robinson Cano.
“It would have been a tough out,” Weeks said. “It would have been bang-bang. That’s why I came up rushing. It just sailed on me.”
Cano said an online throw from Weeks wouldn’t have mattered.
“When I looked back,” Cano said, “(Holt) was on his way to second and (Weeks) hadn’t thrown the ball. He’s a guy who can run. So I don’t think we’ve got a chance at second.”
Holt moved to third when Xander Bogaerts executed a sacrifice bunt before Rodney plunked pinch-hitter Pablo Sandoval with a first-pitch fastball.
That put runners at first and third with one out for Mookie Betts. The Mariners chose to position their infield at double-play depth. Betts fouled off several pitches before sending a fly to left.
The ball was deep enough that Weeks had little chance to throw out Holt at the plate. Nonetheless, Weeks positioned himself for a desperate attempt…and muffed the catch.
The official scoring was a sacrifice fly and an error (VIDEO LINK).
“He really had no play other than to throw the ball to second,” McClendon said. “In the end, it really didn’t cost us, other than a few more pitches for Rodney. They didn’t score any more (runs).”
But, yes, it looked bad.
And it made for a sour ending to what, into the seventh inning, was a tight matchup between lefty Roenis Elias and Boston right-hander Joe Kelly. Both gave up one run in 6 1/3 innings.
Boston scored on Shane Victorino’s two-out homer (VIDEO LINK) in the fourth, and the Mariners answered on Logan Morrison’s RBI grounder (VIDEO LINK) in the sixth. Both teams had lots of other chances, but nothing happened until the ninth.
The Red Sox were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position and stranded 11 runners; the Mariners were 0-for-6 and left seven. Victorino halted a Mariners threat in the seventh by making a spectacular running catch in the right-field corner and turning it into an inning-ending double play.
Boston reliever Matt Barnes (2-0), who escaped a jam in the eighth inning, got the victory when Koji Uehara worked a scoreless ninth for his eighth save in nine chances. Rodney (1-2) was the loser.
“I’m not going to say the play in the ninth inning cost us the game,” McClendon said, “because it didn’t. It was a double. An errant throw, but it was still a double. They got him over, and it was a sacrifice fly.
“Those things happen. That’s baseball. The best of them make errors.”