BOSTON – Desperate times call for desperate measurements, as the Mariners keep charting numbers they hope will lead to something different at the plate.
Not anything that counts runs or hits – something in woeful scarcity Tuesday in a 5-0 loss to the Boston Red Sox. No, the Mariners instead looked at the number of “hard outs” they had in this latest defeat. They are optimistic something will come of it.
Justin Smoak, who narrowly missed a home run in the second inning off Josh Beckett, proclaimed that he and his teammates feel they should have done better.
“We feel like we hit some balls hard and that’s part of the game,” Smoak said after Seattle’s fourth loss in five games this trip. “You can’t always hit them where they’re not.”
Smoak’s shot went to video replay and it seemingly took forever for umpires to rule that the blast toward the right-field foul pole did indeed go foul.
It was a key moment in a game that saw the Mariners otherwise dominated for the first three innings by Beckett.
Blake Beavan was tagged for a David Ortiz solo homer in the third, then two more runs to chase the pitcher after four innings.
Boston added a run in the fifth, then another in the eighth after some missed defensive plays and cruised to victory in front of 37,292 fans at Fenway Park. The Mariners had just four hits and have scored two runs or fewer in each of their four losses on this road trip.
“We still had some poor (at-bats) from a few guys and we’ve got to do a better job of that,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. “But I think we’ve got four or five guys heading in the right direction. What we’ve got to do is get the other four or five heading in the right direction along with them.”
Wedge said the team tracks things like “hard outs” and that the Mariners had nine or 10 of them.
“We had some pitches to hit that we pulled off on or tried to do a little bit too much,” he said. “But as I mentioned, how we track everything, we had nine or 10 hard outs where I really liked the swing.
“And those are the indicators that allow you to get it going.”
The Mariners as a group still miss too many hittable pitches. Wedge watched a lineup loaded with left-handed bats strike out six times the first three innings and nine times in the first five frames.
Had Smoak’s blast been ruled a homer, it might have turned the momentum.
“From my view, right down the line, it went right over the pole,” Smoak said.
Beavan threw 55 pitches the first two innings and was at 93 when he was pulled with a bunch of lefties, including Ortiz, due up in the fifth. Other than a missed fastball left in Ortiz’s wheelhouse on the homer, Beavan felt he executed.
“It’s frustrating when you’re making pitches and just not getting the results you want,” he said. “I thought I had a pretty good breaking ball and I thought my fastball was pretty good.”
Beavan at least kept his team within striking distance in his first outing since a line drive hit his throwing elbow eight days earlier. He said the high pitch count was more because he couldn’t finish batters off and had nothing to do with his elbow.
Charlie Furbush came on in the fifth and had Ortiz drop a bunt single down toward third base to beat an infield shift. Ortiz could have been doubled up on an ensuing grounder, but backup shortstop Munenori Kawasaki forgot to touch second base. Ortiz then took third on a wild pitch and then scored on a Will Middlebrooks single to left.
Boston added a final run in the eighth when left fielder Mike Carp could not make a sliding catch.
The Mariners, even when they did hit the ball hard, couldn’t finish anything.
“We’ve got to do a better job of working it on down the line,” Wedge said, “and of trying to get the ball rolling from one hitter to the next and on down.”