It's been a tough day so far for John Lackey, whose early-game difficulties have left the Sox in a 4-3 hole in the fifth inning.
The first four Seattle batters really set the tone early, with not a one of them getting out. Ichiro turned on an inside cutter, sending a ground ball down the first base line for a double. Franklin Guttierez' swinging bunt wasn't at all impressive, but it left a man on base just the same. Dustin Ackley walked to load the bases, and with the third ground ball hit of the inning, Mike Carp brought two men home. The Mariners have since scored in both the second and fourth to put up four runs on a starting pitcher who had, until today, seemed to be finding his stride in the second half.
While Boston's offense wasn't as fully-stocked to begin the night as it originally seemed, with both Kevin Youkilis and Marco Scutaro being late scratches, the lineup has done its job well enough to stay in the game. The Red Sox struck back in the second when David Ortiz lost a 1-1 fastball from Blake Beavan over the wall in dead center for a solo shot.
The second run of the inning would come in scarier fashion. After Carl Crawford lined a single into right and stole second, a hard-hit ground ball from Jarrod Saltalamacchia took a sudden hop at first, catching Justin Smoak in the face. The Seattle first baseman left the field after a lengthy injury delay and appears to have fractured his nose. With Carl Crawford now at third, Mike Aviles provided a sacrifice fly to, at the time, tie the game.
The Sox would go scoreless in the third and fourth, but received another run--and a very good sign--courtesy of Jed Lowrie in the fifth. The oft-injured shortstop offered his first real sign of life since returning by launching a solo shot from the left side of the plate into the stands in right--exactly the sort of thing the Sox are hoping to see more of from Lowrie as the year continues.
With John Lackey recording a 1-2-3 fifth, the Sox will head to bat in the sixth hoping that momentum has shifted.