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BOSTON — At least the Mariners won’t have to come back to Boston for a makeup game in September.
But there were few other positives for the team Sunday as a disastrous road trip concluded with an 11-2 loss and a three-game sweep by the Red Sox.
It was the fourth straight loss for the Mariners — and their 15th in 19 games — as they finished a 10-game road trip with just two wins and fell to 20-23 on the season.
How bad was the series? The Red Sox outscored the Mariners, 34-8.
After watching the first two games of the series on his phone while attending his daughter’s college graduation from the University of Mississippi, manager Scott Servais got to suffer through Sunday’s game in person.
With rain falling from first pitch to the final out at varying levels from light drizzle to steady drops, the two teams slogged through 81⁄2 innings in conditions that might have led to a delay or postponement earlier in the series. But on a getaway day finale, they pushed through the rain — safety and clean play be damned.
“Both teams had to play in miserable conditions out there,” Servais said. “Obviously, not a good series for us. Rough road trip. We’ve got to get back home and kind of regroup and go from there. But it was nasty, nasty conditions out there.”
For three games at Fenway, the Red Sox hitters turned nearly every at-bat into a pitch-filled battle where surrender was not an option. It was the same thing the Mariners hitters did to opposing pitchers early in the season. This time, Seattle’s pitchers got to endure that struggle to get outs while keeping their pitch counts down.
Marco Gonzales, one of the Mariners’ most efficient strike throwers, couldn’t combat the Red Sox approach, which was aided by the rigidly tight strike zone of home-plate umpire Quinn Wolcott.
Throw in the now-expected but still shameful Mariners defense to prolong innings and you arrive at a four-inning, 95-pitch start for Gonzales where he allowed four runs (two earned) on four hits. He walked three and struck out three.
“I thought that the mound was OK,” Gonzales said. “I thought it was a little muddy and sticky at times, but again, I don’t think that’s an excuse for the amount of pitches.”
The Mariners gave Gonzales a 1-0 lead before he threw his first pitch. Mitch Haniger drew a leadoff walk, advanced to third on J.P. Crawford’s double off the green monster and scored on Edwin Encarnacion’s sacrifice fly.
It was a sign of things to come when it took Gonzales eight pitches to strike out Andrew Benintendi and nine pitches to get Mookie Betts to ground out for his first two outs. He wouldn’t get that third out until 23 pitches later.
J.D. Martinez smashed a solo homer — his first at Fenway this season — to tie the score 1-1. Gonzales walked Xander Bogaerts, gave up a soft single to Rafael Devers to put runners on the corners. He appeared to have the second out when Michael Chavis hit a pop behind first base. However, second baseman Shed Long overran the pop up, and when he tried to stop and correct himself, he slipped and fell on the wet grass, the ball landed behind him for an RBI “single.”
With Chavis batting, catcher Omar Narvaez made a careless attempt at an inside pitch, missing it for a run-scoring passed ball.
When Gonzales finally got Christian Vazquez to pop out to end the first inning, he’d thrown 40 pitches and the Mariners trailed 3-1.
The second inning was marginally better for Gonzales. He needed just 25 pitches to get through it. But with two out, right fielder Jay Bruce got a late jump on a fly ball off the bat Betts then dropped it for an error, allowing Benintendi to score from first to make it 4-1.
Gonzales worked through the next two innings scoreless despite another misplayed pop up in the third inning and a leadoff double in the fourth inning.
The Mariners trimmed the lead to 4-2 in the fifth inning on Narvaez’s solo homer to right field. For a rare moment in the series, the Mariners were in a competitive game.
But the bullpen didn’t allow it to stay that way.
Rookie Parker Markel, who got called up from Class AAA Tacoma on Sunday and was making his big-league debut, gave up two runs in the fifth inning after getting two quick outs. Markel got hurt by Wolcott, who missed what appeared to be strike three on Bogaerts, who later walked, ignoting a rally that included three consecutive hits.
Boston scored three more runs off Dan Altavilla in the seventh inning and two more in the eighth off Mike Wright when Martinez smashed a two-run homer for his 11th career multihomer game.