The luck of the Irish, as history shows, isn’t always good luck.
Shawn O’Malley hit his first homer of the season Thursday on Irish Heritage Night at Safeco Field, but it was his inability to keep a ground ball in the infield that proved decisive in a 3-2 loss to Boston in 11 innings.
"I think I should have had it," O’Malley said. "It was a tough play. The ball came up and made a little funny hop. I got glove on it. Worse case, I just wanted to keep that in the infield.
"Unfortunately, it scooted into center, and it ended up being the difference. It’s just a little frustrating."
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Let’s set the stage.
Travis Shaw, who homered in the second inning, started the Red Sox’s 11th by beating an overshifted infield for a single to left against Cody Martin, the sixth Mariners pitcher.
"That was a cutter down and away," Martin said. "The swing he took, it looked like he was just trying to stay alive. It came back a little toward the plate, and he was able to get the bat on it. Just kind of poked it through."
Shaw moved to second on Sandy Leon’s sacrifice bunt.
Brock Holt then hit a grounder up the middle that ticked off O’Malley’s glove as he made a diving attempt. The ball caromed into center field and permitted Shaw to score.
O’Malley slammed his glove at the ground in frustration.
"I felt I could have got a better jump," he said. "I pulled out just a little bit, and it was enough for me to misjudge it. Then it took a hop. From the get-go, it didn’t start out very good."
It wasn’t a routine play, and had O’Malley fielded the ball cleanly, it’s unlikely he would have had a play at first. But Shaw probably has to hold at third doesn’t score.
That was the difference.
The Mariners got the tying run to third base later in the inning against Brad Ziegler but no farther. They settled for a split in their four-game series against the Red Sox.
The Mariners had a chance in the ninth inning after O’Malley collected his third hit by serving a one-out single into center field against reliever Fernando Abad.
Guillermo Heredia popped out, but Franklin Gutierrez fought back from a 1-2 hole for a walk. That got the game to Robinson Cano.
Two nights earlier, Cano capped a five-run eighth inning with a three-run homer against Abad in a 5-4 comeback victory.
This time, Boston manager John Farrell ignored the left-on-left matchup, and Abad’s previous dominance against Cano — 1-for-11 prior to the homer — by summoning closer Craig Kimbrel.
"I felt like it was an opportunity for us to go to our most powerful reliever with the highest strikeout rate down there," Farrell said. "I didn’t think he’d get out of it with just two pitches and a ground ball, but it worked out well."
Cano grounded out to second.
Kimbrel (2-3) got the victory by pitching 1 1/3 innings. Ziegler collected his third Boston save to go along with 18 he accumulated at Arizona prior to last month’s trade. Martin (1-2) was the loser.
"To hold that team to two runs until the 11th inning…," manager Scott Servais said. "You’ve got to do more on offense. They’ve got a very good offense. I thought out pitching was outstanding tonight."
Lefty Ariel Miranda, acquired Sunday from Baltimore, allowed two runs over six innings in his first major-league start. He struck out five and walked one in an 80-pitch outing before handing a 2-2 game to Drew Storen.
Boston starter Drew Pomeranz also gave up two runs in six innings. He permitted just four hits, but three came in a two-run fifth inning. He also walked six.
Miranda started the game by retiring Mookie Betts on a foul pop before Xander Bogaerts and David Ortiz delivered singles. The two were a combined 1-for-22 in the first three games.
A walk to Dustin Pedroia loaded the bases, but Miranda struck out Jackie Bradley Jr. and retired Aaron Hill on a fly to right.
Miranda then started the second inning by surrendering a no-doubt bomb to Shaw on a 2-0 fastball. Shaw’s 386-foot drive to right was his 13th homer of the season.
The Mariners loaded the bases in the fourth inning on three walks by Pomeranz — two with one out, and one with two outs — but Leonys Martin grounded out to first.
Boston extended its lead to 2-0 in the fifth when Bryce Brentz led off with a line-hugging double past first base and scored on Betts’ double into the right-center gap.
The Mariners answered with two runs later in the inning.
O’Malley opened the bottom of the inning with a 409-foot drive to left for his first homer of the season.
"I had a feeling (it was gone)," O’Malley said. "If it didn’t, I don’t know what I’d have to do this off-season workout-wise."
Heredia followed with a bunt single and moved to third on ground outs by Gutierrez and Cano. The Red Sox opted for an intentional walk to Nelson Cruz, but Dae-Ho Lee flicked a single to right.
Lee helped keep the game tied in the sixth inning by making a (sort of) leaping catch on Shaw’s line drive with a runner on first base and turning it into a double play.
PLAY OF THE GAME: Left fielder Guillermo Heredia ran down Xander Bogaerts’ drive on track for the first out in the fifth inning with a runner at second and one run already in.
Heredia’s momentum carried him onto the wall, but he held onto the ball.
PLUS: Lefty Ariel Miranda had an encouraging debut as a Mariner in limiting Boston to two runs in six innings. He appears likely to fill the swing role that became vacant when the Mariners traded lefty Mike Montgomery to the Chicago Cubs…Blake Parker, promoted earlier in the day from Triple-A Tacoma, worked around a two-out jam in a scoreless 10th inning….Shawn O’Malley matched a career high with three hits.
MINUS: The Mariners were 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position and stranded 11 runners. The walked nine times against Boston pitchers, but turned none of those walks into runs…Robinson Cano was 0-for-5, which dropped his average to .297.
STAT PACK: The Mariners became the first American League team to start a Cuban-born pitcher (Ariel Miranda) and two Cuban-born position players (left fielder Guillermo Heredia and center fielder Leonys Martin) in the same game since Minnesota on Sept. 27, 1970.
The Twins’ players were pitcher Luis Tiant, shortstop Chico Cardenas and center fielder Tony Oliva. (Yes, Oliva played primary right field in his 15-year career, but he was in center for that game.)
QUOTABLE: "Games like that," manager Scott Servais said, "you’ve got to find a way, and we just didn’t get it done. These games are about getting the big hit. We did a lot of other good things. We just didn’t finish it off."
SHORT HOPS: The Mariners fell to 6-7 in extra innings and to 18-21 in one-run games…Boston finished with a 4-3 edge in the season series…Mariners starters have pitched at least six innings in 12 of the last 15 games, but the Mariners are just 8-7 in that span.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners