BOSTON (AP) – A rough first month of the season for Boston has ended and the Red Sox are still searching for answers at the plate.
The Red Sox, a trendy pick to make it to the World Series, closed the month of April like many of its early season dates, failing to come through with a key hit and dropping a 2-0 decision to the Seattle Mariners on Saturday night.
The Red Sox, who are expected to have a potent lineup but entered the night in the middle of the AL in runs scored and average, left 11 on base and went 0 for 11 with runners in scoring position.
Entering Saturday, they were hitting just .187 with runners in scoring position and less than two outs. They were third-worst in the AL in runners left on base. That mostly explains why they’re 11-15 and last in the AL East heading into May.
“It’s a lot of the same things,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “We get in a situation like that and we’re swinging at a lot of off-speed pitches. We had a lot of opportunities and just didn’t do anything.”
Boston loaded the bases twice against Mariners starter Doug Fister, who escaped jams three times in 5 2-3 scoreless innings.
Seattle’s bullpen continued its hot run in the team’s fifth straight win.
Boston lost for the fourth time in five games after winning eight of nine.
“I’m not going to comment on that,” said tough-luck loser John Lackey of the offense. “We’ve got a lot of guys with a lot of good track records. They’ll get going. As pitchers we’ve just got to keep doing our part.”
Boston’s starters are 8-3 with a 1.86 ERA in their last 14 games.
Seattle’s Milton Bradley had an RBI double before being ejected a few minutes later and the Mariners’ bullpen pitched the final 3 1-3 innings. Seattle’s pen has held opponents scoreless for the last 13 1-3 innings.
The Red Sox went hitless the final five innings — two against the bullpen — in Friday’s 5-4 loss.
Fister (2-3) allowed five hits, walked five and fanned four.
Aaron Laffey pitched 2 1-3 of one-hit relief and Brandon League got the final three outs for his seventh save in seven attempts.
Bradley’s double gave the Mariners a 1-0 lead in the second, halting a 15 1-3 inning scoreless stretch by Lackey (2-3). Ichiro Suzuki walked and Chone Figgins singled before Bradley doubled just inside the left-field foul line.
Bradley, standing at second following his double, was ejected by second base umpire Gerry Davis after Miguel Olivo was out on a close grounder at first. Manager Eric Wedge had just gone back to the dugout after arguing the play with Tim Tichenor, but was not tossed.
Jack Wilson’s sacrifice fly made it 2-0 in the sixth.
Lackey gave up two runs, seven hits, walked four and struck out three in six innings.
Fister escaped a bases-loaded jam in the first and stranded Jacoby Ellsbury at second after his leadoff double in the third.
But his biggest escape act came with the help of the Red Sox when he loaded the bases with no outs in the fifth.
Jarrod Satalamacchia led off with a double before Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia walked. Adrian Gonzalez then lined into a double play, with Ellsbury getting caught diving back to second and Kevin Youkilis fouled out. The Red Sox had first and third with two outs in the sixth before Laffey got the final out.
In the first, Boston loaded the bases with one out before David Ortiz struck out swinging and J.D. Drew flied out.
NOTES: Youkilis, who has been bothered by a sore hip, left for a pinch runner in the seventh inning. “We don’t want it to linger,” Francona said. … Seattle’s Justin Smoak went 0 for 4, snapping his 11-game hitting streak. … Boston veteran knuckleballer Tim Wakefield will start Sunday against Felix Hernandez. The original scheduled starter, Clay Buchholz, was pushed back a day after he left the park Friday when he wasn’t feeling well. … The Mariners close a six-game road trip Sunday and have Monday off before opening a three-game series against Texas. … Fister allowed just one run and four hits over six innings in his previous start Sunday against Oakland. … Lackey has given up just three earned runs in 20 innings over three starts after giving up 15 runs total in his initial two of the season.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)