The Red Sox will not end April with even a .500 record after dropping the opening game of their series against the Mariners Friday, 5-4.
It's easy to place blame in this one: neither Daisuke Matsuzaka nor Bobby Jenks did their jobs. And Matt Albers didn't really help. The Red Sox' offense was, while not spectacular, acceptable. The Sox managed eight hits and a pair of walks off of the Mariners, and had things been a little different, perhaps when Mike Cameron went long twice against Seattle starter Jason Vargas, it would have been for more than one run a piece.
Instead, Vargas managed to spread the baserunners out well enough that the Sox could only score four runs, with a few long flies dying on the track.
The real problems, though, came on the mound, and started in the first inning with Daisuke Matsuzaka. Walking Chone Figgins and inducing a pair of fly outs from Ichiro Suzuki and Milton Bradley, Matsuzaka seemed poised to escape the first inning relatively unharmed. But Miguel Olivo laced a single into left, advancing to second on a bobble from Darnell McDonald, bringing up Justin Smoak. The Mariner's young slugger did not disappoint, picking up a hard hit ground ball single to score both runners.
While Matsuzaka seemed to settle down, things suddenly went wrong in the fifth inning. After giving up a leadoff single to Ichiro Suzuki, Terry Francona came out. After a conference at the mound, Daisuke was pulled from the game with elbow tightness. Still holding a 4-2 lead at the time thanks to Cameron's homers and a string of singles in the third, the Sox turned to Matt Albers. That didn't work out particularly well. A single by Chone Figgins moved Ichiro into scoring position, and an error by Albers trying to turn a double play at first let Suzuki come home to close the gap.
The Red Sox held off the Mariners until the seventh, but with Bobby Jenks coming into the game, Seattle made a comeback. Once again, it was the top of the Mariners' lineup getting the job done, with Ichiro singling, Figgins doubling, and Miguel Olivo grounding out to bring in the tying run. With one out to go and the game tied, the Sox almost escaped the inning. But Jack Cust's double finished off the Sox' lead, and with Boston unable to make a comeback, the Mariners won their fourth straight and ensured a losing April for the Red Sox.