Mariners 5, Red Sox 4: Josh Beckett's Terrible Start Sinks Sox

The Red Sox could not overcome a poor start from Josh Beckett Saturday night, falling to the Mariners 5-4 despite a middle-inning rally against Felix Hernandez.

Ichiro Suzuki set the tone for the first inning with the very first pitch of the night from Josh Beckett, sending a get-me-over fastball out to right field for a quick 1-0 lead. Things wouldn't slow down from there. For the second straight night, the Mariners would send their first four batters to the basepaths, with Franklin Guttierez singling, Dustin Ackley doubling, and Mike Carp singling to make it a very quick 3-0 lead. Wily Mo Pena would provide Beckett's first out more than 20 pitches into his start, but Casper Wells put an exclamation mark on the frame by taking the Red Sox' ace deep for the second time in the inning, leaving Boston down 5-0 after one.

Josh Beckett would settle down after his disaster first, pitching the next four innings without allowing any further damage, but through the fifth, Felix Hernandez was showing few signs of weakness. The only trouble he faced came in the fourth, when with Jacoby Ellsbury on third, Dustin Pedroia flew out to right. Ellsbury raced home, but couldn't come close to beating the incredible throw from Ichiro. As Ellsbury crashed into Josh Bard, the Seattle catcher pulled the ball from his glove as if to show the umpire, but the call was safe, with Bard having dropped the ball. Confusion erupted as players, umpires, and managers alike gathered around the plate, but in the end the call was reversed--correctly, for what it's worth--and Terry Francona tossed from the game for arguing.

Perhaps it was their manager's ejection, but for whatever reason, the Sox came out in the sixth with fire at their heels. Marco Scutaro tripled off the wall in left-center, though the ball seemed catchable, and scored quickly thereafter when Ellsbury decided not to test any outfielder arms by hitting his 20th home run of the season. With one out, Adrian Gonzalez took advantage of the shift, dropping a perfect bunt down the vacated third base line, and then much like Scutaro before him enjoyed a leisurely walk home as Dustin Pedroia went to the opposite field to pick up his own 16th. Suddenly, it was a one-run game.

Unfortunately, that was the way it would stay. A pair of double plays in the seventh and eighth, along with a bizarre decision to try and steal on a 2-0 count from Darnell McDonald (who was pinch running for David Ortiz--himself having reached on a walk) took the life out of any hopes for a Boston comeback. 

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