At this rate, Tim Wakefield better hope he can play another few seasons. It looks like it might take that long for him to get that 200th win. I'm also inclined to keep my mouth shut on days that he starts until he's out of the game to open my big mouth, in fear that I am somehow responsible for prolonging the agony.
So, today Wakefield—and the Sox's—downfall came not in the first inning but in the third inning. Wakefield was remarkably efficient in the first two frames, retiring the first six Mariners on just eighteen pitches. He was matched out for out, however, by Charlie Furbush, although the latter required nearly twice as many pitches to get the job done.
Wakefield then had the kind of bad inning that has seemed to plague the Sox in recent seasons.
A walk to Casper Wells led to a run after a throwing error by Jarrod Saltalamacchia allowed Wells to advance to third, followed by a Jack Wilson single. The damage was prolonged by the umpires screwing over Jed Lowrie for not getting sufficiently close to the second base bag to satisfy their needs on a double play attempt. A Franklin Gutierrez sac fly, a walk to Dustin Ackley, and a single by Mike Carp following the error would bring in two more runs, and digging a 3-0 hole out of which the Sox would never climb. Bizarrely, the Mariners also did not capitalize as much as they could have (or should have)—in spite of sending all nine men to the plate in that inning, the Mariners scored only the requisite minimum of three runs, and did it all in the span of only 24 pitches.
The Sox would have their chances, though—in the top of the 5th, the bases were loaded with one out after singles by Adrian Gonzalez and David Ortiz framed a four-pitch walk to Kevin Youkilis. (The one out came on a Dustin Pedroia liner to shortstop—just the way things would go today.) Lowrie would bring in one run on a sac fly of his own, but Carl Crawford popped out to shortstop to end the threat.
The Mariners would tack on another run on three straight singles in the bottom of the fifth, and on a homer by Wells in the bottom of the sixth. Wakefield would pitch the full game, however, throwing 94 pitches—68 of them for strikes—in the losing effort, but also giving the bullpen an extra day off in advance of a doubleheader against the Rays.
The Sox would put up another pair of runs following a Youkilis homer in the eighth, driving in Pedroia (of course!), but that would come off of reliever Jeff Gray. Once again, the Red Sox made an unknown pitcher look like Cy Young for a day: Furbush would go 7 innings, allowing just four hits and two walks against six strikeouts.
So now it's back to Fenway for a compressed three-game series against the Rays before heading on another road trip, this time four games against the Royals before facing the Rangers for four. (By the way: for those commenting in the game thread about losing two series to Seattle: the Sox actually had a 5-4 record against Seattle this season, with a 4-2 record at Fenway and a 1-2 record in Seattle. So it's nowhere near optimal, but it's not what we were hoping for against a team like Seattle.)