Red Sox Fall Apart in Eighth, Leave Seattle With Unsatisfying Split


July 25, 2010

Red Sox Fall Apart in Eighth, Leave Seattle With Unsatisfying Split Postgame, Mariners 4-2: Terry Francona said that there did not seem to be much urgency on the part of Hideki Okajima on that misplayed bunt in the eighth. Catcher Dusty Brown said, "We've got to get an out right there." It was the key play in a sickening setback in Seattle that leaves the Sox in need of a turnaround in Anaheim.

Speaking of Anaheim, it has just acquired Dan Haren and figures to be a bigger player in the pursuit of the AL wild card spot. Boston is currently second in that race but may need to make a move of its own to acquire some bullpen help or a bat to stay in the thick of things.

The bright spot in all this? Clay Buchholz goes in the opener against the Angels on Monday night and should be a bit better in his second game since coming off the DL. The first pitch for that one is set for 10:05 p.m.

Final, Mariners 4-2: This has to be one of the worst series splits in Red Sox history. After wasting Jon Lester's spectactular outing Saturday night, the Sox fall apart in the eighth on Sunday and sink further in the standings.

With four losses in seven games on the West Coast road trip and 12 losses in 18 games overall, Boston is now six games back in the loss column in the wild card race and nine back of first-place New York in the AL East.

The offense remains in neutral and the bullpen is a mess, folks. We'll be back in a bit to talk about a little bit more.

End 8th, Mariners 4-2: Even Ramon Ramirez didn't think he had strike three on Chone Figgins to end the top of the eighth. Bad call. But he got it and the Sox actually should feel somewhat fortunate about being down just two runs in this one.

In case you missed it, Hideki Okajima relieved Daniel Bard with a man on and no outs and promptly allowed his first hit. Then, Casey Kotchman dropped a bunt down that Okajima fielded, looked to third and then looked to third a second time before throwing to first way too late.

Bases loaded, no outs. A two-run single by Michael Saunders and an RBI bunt single by Milton Bradley that fell between Okajima and Kevin Youkilis did the damage on the scoreboard, all with no outs. 

It could've been a four- or five-run game if not for a nice DP by Youkilis and then the questionable strikeout of Figgins.

6:58 p.m.: Kevin Youkilis helps out Hideki Okajima by turning a 1-2 double play, keeping this a two-run game. But Okajima and some exceptional bunts by Seattle have done enough damage already. Okie is not so dokie and is now done for the afternoon.

Ramon Ramirez has taken over with runners at second and third and Chone Figgins up.

The Sox have allowed three runs in the eighth inning each of the last two days.

6:56 p.m.: Yep, it's still going. 4-2 Seattle. No outs in eighth.

6:51 p.m.: As the Yankees wrap up a win in New York, Hideki Okajima is melting down on the mound in Seattle. The Mariners have scored three times already and there are no outs.

6:45 p.m.: Daniel Bard's foray into the eighth inning lasts one batter. Jose Lopez bloops a single to center to get the Mariners started and prompt Terry Francona to call on Hideki Okajima with a string of lefties coming up.

Mid 8th, Red Sox 2-1: The Seattle bullpen continues to dominate the Red Sox as Brandon League comes on to strike out Kevin Youkilis to end the top of the eighth.

6:35 p.m.: Chris Seddon has thrown 3 2/3 scoreless innings and has a win in this series out of the Seattle bullpen. He is done for the day after striking out David Ortiz for the second out in the top of the eighth.

End 7th, Red Sox 2-1: Daniel Bard has become automatic. His streak of consecutive scoreless innings is now at 15 2/3 after he freezes Franklin Gutierrez with a filthy breaking ball to end the seventh.

Bard threw 14 pitches in the inning and will likely factor into things in the eighth as well. Perhaps he and Jonathan Papelbon will combine on the final six outs in some fashion.

Mid 7th, Red Sox 2-1: Say what you will about the Mariners' offense, which is pathetic, and its defense, which has woefully underachieved, but you can't do much to criticize the pitching.

The Seattle bullpen has not allowed a run in 7 1/3 innings since Eric Patterson's big go-ahead hit in the opener Thursday.

Daniel Bard has relieved Daisuke Matsuzaka, who walked the tightrope through six effective innings.

End 6th, Red Sox 2-1: The Mariners get so few hits that to see Casey Kotchman thrown out at second trying to stretch a single into a double must gnaw at manager Don Wakamatsu. Instead of getting the tying run on to start things off it becomes the equivalent of a 1-2-3 inning for Daisuke Matsuzaka.

Nice job by Jeremy Hermida to play the carom and nail Kotchman at second.

Mid 6th, Red Sox 2-1: As was the case Saturday night the Sox enter the bottom of the sixth inning with a razor thin margin for error. We all know what happened then, beginning with Eric Patterson's dropped fly ball. Daisuke Matsuzaka has thrown 102 pitches so his wall may be coming soon.

End 5th, Red Sox 2-1: We're being treated to a real Daisuke Matsuzaka special here. He has thrown 102 pitched and has five walks and thrown a wild pitch in just five innings, but the Mariners have only three hits and Matsuzaka has a 2-1 lead with enough in the tank to go another inning.

Dice-K has given up just four earned runs in 17 2/3 innings over his last three starts.

Mid 5th, Red Sox 2-1: Kevin Youkilis pops to second with two on and two outs to end the top of the fifth. Daisuke Matsuzaka heads back out there to face the heart of the Seattle lineup, which is somewhat like riding the kiddie roller coaster at the amusement park. It's a roller coaster, but not very challenging.

End 4th, Red Sox 2-1: Daisuke Matsuzaka needed a 1-2-3 inning after throwing 67 pitches through the first three innings. He gets it, but still needs 20 more deliveries to get through the fourth. The Mariners have made him work for everything in this one.

Mid 4th, Red Sox 2-1: Just as I detail the Red Sox' offensive futility, the club finally breaks out. The rally would've been even more fruitful if not for Jack Wilson's spectacular diving catch with runners on the corners and two outs.

Kevin Youkilis drove in the first run with a double and Adrian Beltre had an RBI single, all before Doug Fister recorded an out.

Fister battled back to get Jeremy Hermida on a soft liner and Mike Cameron with his third strikeout before Wilson robbed Bill Hall of a run-scoring base hit. If you missed it catch the highlights.

End 3rd, Mariners 1-0: Daisuke Matsuzaka played with fire in the first two innings and survived without getting burned. Not so in the bottom of the third as he was all over the place and paid the price, although he is fortunate to be out of it with just one run being scored.

Matsuzaka went to a three-ball count to three batters, walking two and throwing 27 pitches overall.

Jose Lopez's RBI single provided the only run. Matsuzaka left the bases loaded. He has thrown 66 pitches already.

Mid 3rd, 0-0: Dusty Brown's third career hit, a bloop single to right, does nothing but extend Doug Fister's work in the third. The Sox have now scored five runs in their last 27 innings of this series.

End 2nd, 0-0: There will be no no-hitter watch in this one. Daisuke Matsuzaka allows his first hit on a Casey Kotchman single with one out in the second. Matsuzaka also issues a walk to get himself into a bit of a jam for the second straight inning, but escapes on his third strikeout of the game.

Mid 2nd, 0-0: Adrian Beltre hit into a 5-4-3 double play in the second that showcased just how much trouble he is having getting down the line.

Kevin Youkilis, who singled to lead things off, had a nice takeout slide of Chone Figgins at second. But Figgins jumped over Youkilis, landed, set himself and still had enough time to get Beltre by about 15 feet.

Beltre has hit into 19 double plays, second most in the AL.

End 1st, 0-0: Daisuke Matsuzaka issues a walk, throws a wild pitch, allows a stolen base and watches as Kevin Youkilis misses what appeared to be an easy foul pop. Still, the weak Mariners fail to score.

Chone Figgins, who got to third base with one out on all of the messy stuff we just mentioned, was stranded when Franklin Gutierrez struck out on the 10th pitch of his at bat and Jose Lopez popped to Youkilis.

Since allowing 15 runs in the first 11 first innings this year, Matsuzaka has put up a zero in each of his last three opening frames.

Mid 1st, 0-0: Doug Fister is listed as 6-8, 195 pounds, a tall, lean righty who at least has the look of a guy who could dominate. He is pretty strong in the first inning, blowing away David Ortiz with a rising heater to finish a 1-2-3 frame.

Tampa Bay has already won. The Yankees are in a delay but also have a lead.

4:03 p.m.: The Mariners are completely cooked in the AL West, but there was some life in their dugout Saturday night, one day after the dust-up involving Chone Figgins and others. Recent history suggests such incidents can have a positive effect on a club.

The Rays bottomed out when B.J. Upton and Evan Longoria went at it in the finale of a miserable interleague stretch last month. They proceeded to win 10 of their next 13 games, including four of five against the Red Sox.

Since Carlos Zambrano and Derrek Lee went at it in the Cubs' dugout around the same time, Chicago has gone 13-12. May not seem like much, but the Cubs kind of stink, so that represents a tiny turnaround.

For what it's worth, the Sox went 8-4 after Kevin Youkilis and Manny Ramirez went at it June 5, 2008.

Now here we have the Mariners, an awe-inspiring 1-0 since they were at each other's throats Friday night. Maybe a springboard to a 71-win campaign?

3:45 p.m.: The Blue Jays just moments ago finished off a 5-3 win in Detroit in the first half of a doubleheader. The winning pitcher was Jays reliever Scott Downs, who struck out two men with the bases loaded to end the bottom of the eighth inning. Toronto took the lead in the top of the ninth.

Downs continues to be courted by several teams in need of relief help, but it is the Sox and Yankees that are neck-and-neck out front, according to FOX Sports Jon Morosi.

The lefty is all but certain to be shipped somewhere and it appears as if the competition for one of the best relievers on the market involve the game's biggest rivals.

3:10 p.m.: The Red Sox will head to Anaheim in a few hours either 4-3 or 3-4 on this road trip, a slight numerical shift which could make a major difference. Also on tap to have an impact? Victor Martinez, who may return Monday.

Terry Francona told reporters that he thinks Martinez will be good to go by the time the three-game series with the Angels begins. The last test will occur during the series finale Sunday, when Martinez will catch some guys warming up in the bullpen.

That can be rendered a moot exercise if Daisuke Matsuzaka keeps the bullpen a quiet place with a long, solid start. History suggests he can.

Matsuzaka is 2-0 with a 2.39 ERA in four career starts at Safeco Field and the Mariners starters Sunday feature a collective 9-for-40 (.225) against him.

1:25 p.m.: Before we get to the Red Sox lineup for the series finale, let's congratulate Jerry Remy for his 3,000th broadcast and Andre Dawson for his induction into the Hall of Fame, both of which take place Sunday. Well deserved honors for both gentlemen.

The Sox could probably use Remy and Dawson in the lineup. They have dropped into second place in the majors in runs scored after a prolonged period on top of the category, courtesy of a dry spell going on three weeks now.

Terry Francona has mixed things up a bit Sunday. Here is the Red Sox lineup:

Marco Scutaro, SS
J.D. Drew, RF
David Ortiz, DH
Kevin Youkilis, 1B
Adrian Beltre, 3B
Jeremy Hermida, LF
Mike Cameron, CF
Bill Hall, 2B
Dusty Brown, C

10 a.m.: Daisuke Matsuzaka seeks his third straight win when the Red Sox go for a series win at Seattle on Sunday afternoon in what amounts to a critical affair for the reeling club.

It seems as if every loss the Sox have suffered of late has been extremely damaging and Saturday night's setback in Safeco Field is no exception. Jon Lester struck out a career-high 13 and took a perfect game into the sixth inning but still wound up as the loser in a 5-1 decision.

Boston enters the finale seven games out in the American League East and four back in the wild card race.

Matsuzaka, who is 4-1 on the road, will be opposed by Doug Fister.

First pitch is 4:10 p.m.

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