Mariners Insider Blog

Red Sox 2, Mariners 1: Another Cishek stumble, another wrenching loss

Steve Cishek gave up a game-winning homer Monday in the ninth inning and lost his job as the Mariners’ closer.
Steve Cishek gave up a game-winning homer Monday in the ninth inning and lost his job as the Mariners’ closer. AP

SEATTLE — This wasn’t heartbreak on the scale of what happened Sunday night to the Mariners at Wrigley Field.

But it was bad enough. And the result was the same. Another loss. Also the same, closer Steve Cishek stumbled when it mattered most.

Cishek surrendered a leadoff homer in the ninth inning to Mookie Betts that lifted the Boston Red Sox to a 2-1 victory over the Mariners at Safeco Field.

Betts teed off on a 1-0 sinker that didn’t sink enough and sent it over the left-field wall for his 22nd homer of the season.

"Just a terrible pitch," he said. "I don’t think I could be any more frustrated than I am right now. Obviously, this is a tough stretch for me, but the worst part about it is it’s hurting the team. That’s what makes it frustrating."

It was Cishek (2-6) who squandered a three-run lead Sunday in the ninth inning in Chicago before the Cubs eventually won 7-6 in 12 innings. This latest slip leaves the Mariners with little choice.

"Probably take the gas off a little bit," manager Scott Servais said. "Try to get him into some better spots. Maybe not when the game is on the line all of the time."

Rookie right-hander Edwin Diaz will replace Cishek as the bullpen’s primary closer. Diaz has a 1.80 ERA in 24 appearances with 49 strikeouts in 25 innings.

"He’s obviously the logical choice," Servais said, "and he’s ready for that. There’s no doubt."

Once the Red Sox grabbed the lead on Betts’ homer, their closer, Craig Kimbrel stranded two runners in the ninth in gaining his 18th save and preserving a victory for Junichi Tazawa (2-1).

Before Cishek’s latest stumble, this was a classic pitchers’ duel. James Paxton allowed one run and four hits in eight inning, while Boston’s Eduardo Rodriguez gave up one run and three hits in 6 1/3 innings.

Both got no-decisions.

The game was scoreless into the seventh inning before Dae-Ho Lee’s RBI double gave the Mariners a 1-0 lead. Boston pulled even in the eighth on Aaron Hill’s one-out homer.

"I was trying to go in," Paxton said, "and I just left it up. Over the plate a little too much, too. I was trying to drive it down, and I just left it up a little bit."

The Mariners had a chance to answer later in the eighth after Nori Aoki punched a one-out pinch single up the middle against reliever Tazawa and went to second on a wild pitch.

Leonys Martin’s sharp grounder to first moved Aoki to third. After an intentional walk to Robinson Cano who, at that point, had two of the Mariners’ four hits, Nelson Cruz struck out.

The bigger waste came after the Mariners broke through in the seventh. They had a run in with runners at second and third with one out when Boston replaced Rodriguez with Robbie Ross Jr.

Ross’ first pitch, a 75-mph curve, nicked Kyle Seager on the arm, which loaded the bases for Franklin Gutierrez. But the Mariners settled for one run when Gutierrez and Chris Iannetta struck out.

"We had chances to score a few more runs again," Servais said. "It’s kind of been a theme. It’s disappointing. We’ve got to execute. You only score one run, your margin for error is not very big."

PLAY OF THE GAME: Boston pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez turned a third-inning liner at his jaw into an inning-ending double play.

Rodriguez got his glove up in time to grab the drive off the bat of Shawn O’Malley and, after that, it was easy. He just flipped the ball to first baseman Hanley Ramirez to double off Franklin Gutierrez.

PLUS: James Paxton has allowed two or fewer runs in three of his last five starts…Robinson Cano went 2-for-4 and pushed his average back over .300 at .301…Dae-Ho Lee has three RBIs in the last two game after going 13 games without one.

MINUS: Chris Iannetta was 0-for-3 with three strikeouts. He is 8-for-62 in his last 20 games with 20 strikeouts…the Mariners were 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position…Guillermo Heredia made his first start, in left field, but went hitless in three at-bats.

STAT PACK: Robinson Cano’s two hits pushed his career total against Boston to 214, which ranks second in his career. He has 229 against Baltimore.

QUOTABLE: Closer Steve Cishek admitted he’s searching for answers.

"Today, I watched some video from earlier in the year," he said, "when I was driving the ball well and had good velocity. I felt like I was a little more compact, so I tried to do that today and, obviously, the result wasn’t there.

"So it’s back to the drawing board again."

SHORT HOPS: James Paxton had not allowed a run to Boston in 15 career innings before Aaron Hill’s homer in the eighth inning…Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz received sustained applause from the crowd when he came to bat in the second inning…Ortiz had reached base safely at least once in his last 35 games against the Mariners before going 0-for-4…the Mariners are 17-21 in one-run games…Boston second baseman Dustin Pedroia failed to reach base at least once for the first time in 35 games…Boston shortstop Xander Bogaerts’ hitting streak ended at 13 games when he went 0-for-4.

Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners