By Larry LaRue The News Tribune
BOSTON — The box score was no kinder to the Seattle Mariners than the Boston Red Sox were Tuesday.
It showed four hits, all singles, and no runs for Seattle in Boston’s 5-0 victory — the fifth time this season the Mariners have been shut out, the 15th time they’d scored two runs or less.
They’re 1-14 in those games.
Someone asked outfielder Michael Saunders what he would say to Mariners fans if he could.
“Nothing,” he said. “Everybody busted their ass today. I know the last few years, our offense hasn’t been good, and the fans stayed with us. Well, the box score won’t reflect this game.
“We hit balls hard, right at them. That’s part of the game. Sometimes you chop a ball off the plate for a hit, sometimes there’s miscommunication and a ball falls in.
“Today, every time we hit a ball on the barrel, it was right at someone.”
Saunders was frustrated, as were his teammates. Midway through a brutally scheduled trip — with a pair of two-game series tucked in the middle — the Mariners are 1-4.
With the game scoreless in the second inning, Kyle Seager was robbed of a hit on a dazzling play by shortstop Mike Aviles. The next batter, Justin Smoak, hammered a ball deep over the right field foul pole.
If it was fair, it was by inches. If it was foul, it was by inches.
“I thought it was fair and asked them to review it,” manager Eric Wedge said. “A lead early in the game like that, who knows how it changes things?”
While umpires disappeared to check the video, Smoak stood quietly by the batters box.
“It looked fair to me, but it went right over the pole. They reviewed it and said it was foul, so it was foul,” Smoak said.
Two pitches later, he struck out.
“Josh Beckett did his job today, he moved his fastball in and out, but we hit the ball hard and got nothing to show for it. That’s baseball,” Smoak said.
Wedge held up his end of the chorus.
“We hit nine, 10 balls hard, and that was the result of good, tough at-bats,” Wedge said. “Kyle Seager hit the ball hard all four times up and got nothing. Smoak had a good approach, Michael Saunders had good at-bats.
“We’ve got four or five guys headed in the right direction — now we need to get four or five more headed that way,” he said. “You can’t control where you hit the ball. You can control hitting the ball hard.”
The box score will also show that Blake Beavan gave up three runs in four innings and struggled the entire time he was on the mound. What it won’t show is that the Seattle defense — which hasn’t made an error in 10 consecutive games — stumbled in this one.
Without committing an error.
There were, however, mistakes.
Down 3-0 in the fifth inning, the Mariners watched David Ortiz bunt for a single against an infield shift, then got a double play ground ball to first from Adrian Gonzalez.
Smoak fielded the ball cleanly, but his throw to second was just wide enough that shortstop Munenori Kawasaki left the bag early to catch and return the throw. Umpire Marty Foster called Ortiz save at second.
That’s not an error because the Mariners got Gonzalez at first base, but it hurt because Ortiz came around to score moments later.
“We cost ourselves a couple of runs, and that’s big in a game like this,” Wedge said.
Beavan, who needed 93 pitches to navigate four innings, credited Boston hitters with making him work.
“I felt great out there, but I didn’t get the results I wanted,” Beavan said. “I used my breaking ball well, had a good fastball. They fouled off good pitches. At times I thought I made good pitches but they took them and they weren’t strikes.
“That’s a veteran club, and it won’t fish at close pitches until it has to,” Wedge said. “Beavan gave us a chance — it was 3-0 when he left. We gave a few runs away.”
Still, four hits, and two of those by Ichiro Suzuki.
Leadoff man Dustin Ackley singled in the fourth inning, extending a career-best hitting streak to 11 consecutive games — but keeping his average at .248.
The team had three at-bats with a runner in scoring position, and went 0-for-3. In two games here, the Mariners were 0-for-9 with RISP, and scored one run in 18 innings.
“Seattle fans have had our backs through some tough times and we’re going to run off a stretch of wins,” Saunders promised. “The box score won’t show how hard we’re trying, how many balls we squared up.”