This was an awful follow-up to a thrilling effort on Friday. Eduardo Rodriguez was again struggling with effiency and putting hitters away, and for the first time in a while it caught up with him. His secondaries didn’t seem as effective as they had for most of the year and the Mariners never really had trouble at least threatening to score. On the other side of things the offense wasn’t much better without Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts. They had a promising first inning against Mike Leake before totally falling apart the rest of the game. Bleh.
For the second straight night, the Red Sox did not get a great pitching matchup from their starter. Rodriguez was not as bad as Steven Wright was in the opener of this series, but his offense also didn’t give him the same kind of support. For Rodriguez, the issues were a lot of the things that have long frustrated us about the young lefty — specifically and most notably, not taking advantage of early advantages in counts — but this time he couldn’t work around the problems. The Mariners have a good lineup that can string together rallies at any time, and they showed that quality off on Saturday against the Red Sox starter.
Seattle got started right away, and in a way it was indicative of the night that was to come. It began with a weak ground ball to the left side from Dee Gordon that turned into a single, and that was followed by a hard-hit double to knock the run in. That was a theme of the night, with the Mariners reaching base in frustrating fashion then getting loud contact to do the damage. Anyway, Rodriguez would impressively come back after that, allowing Haniger to reach third but otherwise recording three straight outs and holding Seattle to just one in the inning.
He’d get into some trouble in the second as well — he hit the leadoff batter and then allowed a one-out single later in the inning — but he’d work around the damage for a scoreless inning. In the third, he wasn’t as fortunate. There, he allowed a double to Nelson Cruz (who continues to kill the Red Sox in this series), and then with two outs Rodriguez allowed a chopper to the left side that should have ended the inning. Instead, Tzu-Wei Lin misplayed the hop and it got under his glove and into left field. Cruz would score, and Seattle would take a 2-0 lead after three.
The fourth is where things came apart and it was really the difference between this start and what has been a typical Rodriguez outing in 2018. The lefty got a quick first out before allowing a walk and a bloop single. With two runners on, he got a second out with both runners advancing a base. Still, he was one out from escaping the inning. Instead, he allowed a first-pitch double off the Monster to Mitch Haniger. After an intentional walk to Cruz, Rodriguez started Kyle Seager with an 0-2 count. That got all the way to 3-2, but then the Mariners infielder hit a ground ball behind the first base bag. It turned into a footrace between Seager and Rodriguez, with the former winning and the Mariners scoring another run. Seattle would eventually leave the fourth with a 6-0 lead in hand, and that was the night for Rodriguez. He’s been outstanding for most of the year, but he just couldn’t get out of his own way in this one.
Meanwhile, the Red Sox lineup just couldn’t get anything going against Mariners starter Mike Leake. The righty has a tendency to mix his pitches well and when he’s mixing speed, movement and location he can be hard to hit. It’s the type of arm the Red Sox have struggled against this year, with Wade LeBlanc being another example of that kind of pitcher. That’s not to make an excuse for them, either, because it was frustrating.
Their best chance to score off Leake probably came right off the bat in the first inning right after they had fallen behind 1-0. It was a chance to perform a less extreme version of Friday’s first inning. After a couple of outs to lead things off, Boston got two straight singles and a four-pitch walk to load the bases for Rafael Devers. For some reason, even after the aforementioned four-pitch walk, Devers swung at the first pitch. It was way inside and deflected off his ankle to the backstop. It was originally scored a wild pitch to score a run and tie the game, but a review correctly changed that and brought Devers back up with the bases loaded and an 0-1 count. He’d eventually ground out to end the inning without a run, and that would prove very costly.
Boston never really got things going again after that failed opportunity. The bottom of the lineup went down in order in the second. In the third, the Red Sox would get one on with a single, but that was it. After a couple more 1-2-3 innings in the fourth and fifth, the sixth provided a little bit of promise. Lin did reach on an error and a couple of ground outs moved him over to third, but he’d be stranded there when Mitch Moreland flew out to end the inning. They followed that up with a scoreless seventh that included just a walk, and they went down in order in the eighth.
Meanwhile, Hector Velazquez came on in the fifth to try and eat as many innings as possible after Rodriguez’ short night. He wasn’t great, but he did eat three innings while allowing two runs on six hits. Brandon Workman came on for the eighth, and he tossed a scoreless frame. Heath Hembree then tossed a scoreless ninth.
Edwin Diaz got some work for Seattle in the bottom of the ninth, and after allowing a couple of runs he ended the game.
The Red Sox will look to come back and grab a series victory on Sunday before getting a day off. Chris Sale will be on the mound — get him some runs! — and Marco Gonzales will got for Seattle. First pitch is at 1:05 PM ET.