BOSTON – If this blowout is any indication, some patience will be required for those watching and playing for the Mariners once the trade deadline is past.
The Mariners keep saying they won’t be aggressive before today’s 1 p.m. PDT deadline, meaning the team that got rocked 8-2 by the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday night is largely what will be sticking around. And that means some growing pains, like the fielding by Brad Miller early in his Fenway Park debut, will still require some swallowing from time to time.
Mariners starting pitcher Joe Saunders was left to swallow hard early as some non-plays behind him helped bury his team early.
“I was throwing good pitches,’’ Saunders said. “I wasn’t getting much help. It was just a tough night.’’
Saunders was asked to elaborate on what he meant by “help” and whether it was the umpire he was referring to. He said it wasn’t the umpire.
“Just in general,’’ he said.
Saunders later added that he didn’t want to elaborate further.
“I’ll just get myself in trouble,’’ he said. “It was just a tough night for us. We didn’t get the breaks. They (the Red Sox) got some breaks. It was just one of those nights.’’
Saunders gave up a solo home run to Jacoby Ellsbury and a two-run blast to Dustin Pedroia in the second inning. But it was a mistake-strewn first inning in which the Red Sox scored twice to erase Seattle’s 1-0 lead that really caused the pitcher’s frustration to mount.
Playing his first game here, in front of a sellout crowd of 34,578, Miller made an error on a routine grounder by Pedroia that put runners at the corners with one out. Moments later, catcher Henry Blanco let a pitch deflect off his glove for a passed ball that scored the tying run and moved Pedroia into scoring position.
David Ortiz drove Pedroia home with a single for a 2-1 lead that Boston never relinquished.
Saunders should have been out of the inning on a Jarrod Saltalamacchia grounder to the pitcher’s right. Miller charged in on the ball and tried to barehand it, only to have it slip from his grasp. It was scored an infield single.
“I should have gloved it for sure,’’ Miller said. “With Saltalamacchia running, I was playing pretty deep. It was a bad decision. I should have gloved it. If he beats it out, he beats it out.’’
Saunders went on to throw 29 pitches in the inning and was pulled after five on the short end of a 6-1 score.
Brandon Maurer came on and threw three innings in relief, giving up a two-run blast in the eighth by Saltalamacchia to close out the scoring by Boston.
Blanco drove in a final Seattle run with two out in the ninth, but it was too late for a club dominated for six innings by Red Sox starter Brandon Workman. The Mariners struck out nine times against the right-hander, three of those by Michael Morse.
Seattle had the bases loaded with one out in the sixth, down 6-1, when Workman fanned Morse and Justin Smoak to end the Mariners’ final shot.
The Mariners have scored two runs or fewer in three of their last four games and four of their last six contests. Besides the first-inning sloppiness, they also let a Shane Victorino blooper drop into right field for a double in the fourth that kept Saunders’ pitch count climbing.
Mariners interim manager Robby Thompson said Miller will learn from his early mistakes.
“It was his first time here playing here in Boston, in front of this kind of crowd and energy,’’ Thompson said. “So, a little bit sloppy early. We had our backs up against the wall early, as you guys well know, and we were never able to make a run at it.’’
Miller agreed he’s still learning new things daily about playing at this level.
“I think mainly, it’s just going out there and executing the stuff I’ve already learned,’’ he said. “Instead of making the same mistakes again. That’s pretty standard, like being sure to use your glove and get the out.’’
For Saunders, who threw 99 pitches and gave up six runs – five earned – to drop to 9-10, it’s now a matter of whether he’ll get the chance to have his patience further put to the test with the Mariners the rest of the way. He’s been mentioned before in trade rumors and was part of a deadline deal last year.
“It’s really out of your hands,’’ he said. “You’ve got to go out there, do your job and whatever happens, happens. If you can’t control it – and I preach that — then why are you going to worry about it? Whatever happens, I’d like to be here … these young guys are starting to come into their own and I’d like to be a part of it.’’
But preferably, not too much more of the part he just experienced.