The Boston Red Sox couldn’t make it three in a row.
The Red Sox’s offense again struggled Friday as the Seattle Mariners walked off with a 2-1 win at Safeco Field. Nelson Cruz delivered the knockout blow on another quiet night for Boston’s bats.
The Sox, who had a chance to reach the .500 mark for the first time since May 2, fell to 17-19 with the frustrating defeat. Boston had won four of five entering the contest.
GAME IN A WORD
Clay Buchholz pitched his best game of the season — even better than Opening Day — yet has nothing to show for it. While the Red Sox’s starting rotation has received much of the blame for Boston’s early-season inconsistency, it’s apparent the club’s offense quickly is becoming an even bigger issue.
IT WAS OVER WHEN?
Cruz lined a 3-2 pitch from Junichi Tazawa to the wall in left-center field. The knock scored Brad Miller from second base with the game-winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Tazawa left a pitch up in the zone and Cruz made him pay.
ON THE BUMP
— Buchholz was absolutely brilliant, with the exception of one pitch.
The right-hander struck out a season-high 11 batters over eight innings. He didn?t walk anyone and allowed just three hits while throwing 102 pitches (71 strikes).
Unfortunately for Buchholz, one of the three hits he surrendered was a solo homer to Seth Smith in the sixth inning. It was a 1-0 fastball that Smith crushed into the seats in right-center field.
Buchholz retired 17 in a row at one point. His ERA has sunk below 5.00 to 4.93.
— Tommy Layne replaced Buchholz after eight innings and faced three batters.
Layne retired Willie Bloomquist, who pinch-hit for Smith, on a ground ball to shortstop Xander Bogaerts. Mike Napoli made an excellent pick at first base.
Miller, who scored the game-winning run, reached on a sharp ground ball to short. Bogaerts made a nice stop ranging into the hole, but he was unable to deliver a jump-throw to first base in time to record the out. The 22-year-old had some trouble transferring the baseball from his glove to his throwing hand.
Robinson Cano grounded out for the second out, moving Miller into scoring position for Cruz.
— Tazawa failed to put away Cruz with a 2-2 pitch in the dirt. Cruz ripped Taz’s next offering for Seattle’s game-winning hit.
IN THE BATTER?S BOX
— Bogaerts knocked in Boston?s only run in the second inning. He tripled off the wall in left-center field to score Shane Victorino, who singled with one out and stole second base with two outs.
Bogaerts added a leadoff single in the eighth inning. He advanced to second base on Sandy Leon?s sacrifice bunt, but never scored, as Mookie Betts popped out and Dustin Pedroia grounded out.
— Victorino collected two hits a night after reaching base three times.
It appears Victorino is coming around, which could be a big development for the Red Sox, who have received virtually zero production from right field this season.
— Pedroia, Napoli and Hanley Ramirez were among those with deep fly ball outs in the contest. Safeco Field is a pitcher-friendly environment to begin with, and the ball wasn?t traveling at all Friday.
— David Ortiz hasn’t done much at the plate of late. However, he produced two hits, including a leadoff single in the ninth inning that the Red Sox failed to capitalize on.
— The Red Sox finished with seven hits. They went 1-for-5 with runners in scoring position and left five men on base.
Boston has scored seven runs over its last four games. Yikes.
TWEET OF THE GAME
Clay was dealin’. Hats off to J.A. Happ and Co. for keeping up.
The Red Sox and Mariners will keep things rolling Saturday in Seattle. It should only get more difficult for Boston?s offense, too, as Seattle will trot out its undefeated ace, Felix Hernandez.
The Red Sox will counter with Rick Porcello, who could make a major statement by outdueling the Mariners? top dog. Porcello already has played the role of stopper a couple of times this season.
Thumbnail photo via Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports Images