SEATTLE -- In a pitcher's duel, one mistake can cost you the game. Thursday night, it happened to Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
In a scoreless tie in the bottom of the ninth, Saltalamacchia dropped a strike from right fielder Cody Ross, who was attempting to throw out Casper Wells at the plate.
Pinch-hitter John Jaso laced a single to right with one out. Ross's throw arrived in time, but the ball fell out of Saltalamacchia's glove as he attempted to apply a swipe tag to Wells, giving the Seattle Mariners a 1-0 victory.
Felix Hernandez got the win for the Mariners, striking out 13 and allowing just five hits. He had to work out of a first-and-second, one-out jam in the top of the ninth to keep the game scoreless. He left after throwing 128 pitches, a career high.
Starter Franklin Morales was brilliant in his third spot start, shutting out the Mariners over seven innings, allowing only three hits while striking out seven and walking two.
STAR OF THE GAME: Felix HernandezIt's hard to imagine a pitcher throwing better than the complete game shutout turned in by the Mariners' ace Thursday. Hernandez went nine innings, struck out 13, walked just one and allowed five hits -- all singles.
HONORABLE MENTION: Franklin MoralesMorales was nearly as good as Hernandez, keeping the Mariners scoreless through seven while throwing 109 pitches, the second-highest total of his career. It's hard to believe that, just two weeks ago, Morales was pitching in middle relief.
GOAT OF THE GAME: Scott AtchisonAtchison gave up a one-out double to Casper Wells and it came back to bite him when Wells scored the only run of the game on a single to right by pinch-hitter John Jaso.
TURNING POINT: The Sox had runners at first and second with one out in the ninth, but couldn't push a run home against Hernandez. Adrian Gonzalez battled him on a nine pitch at-bat, but ultimately flied out to center.
BY THE NUMBERS: The Red Sox, who didn't have a homer, are 5-20 when they don't hit one.
QUOTE OF NOTE: "That was King Franklin against King Felix tonight.'' --Adrian Gonzalez on the pitching duel.
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md -- In the span on less than 12 hours earlier this week, the Red Sox injected some impact players onto their roster, moves that cost them a large chunk of their farm system but made them the prohibitive favorites in the American League.
By adding All-Star starter Chris Sale, power set-up man Tyler Thornburg and first baseman Mitch Moreland (though the Sox have not confirmed the latter yet), the team was remade and became the talk of the Winter Meetings.
But Dave Dombrowski knows that "winning the winter'' can be a hollow achievement. It's what happens when the games start that will truly matter.
"We feel good,'' said Dombrowski as he got ready to depart. "We feel like we have a better ballclub. We feel like we've helped ourselves. Our guys have done a good job here all week long. So, we feel good about it.
"In the winter time, winning doesn't really mean anything. We've had that situation before. It really comes down to how well you play. That's why when people ask me to made predictions, I never make them. I think we have a club that can compete. I like our ballclub. But you really have to go about it on a day-in, day-out basis and take care of your business and I think our club will do that.''
The Red Sox, of course, won the A.L. East, but were summarily dismissed in the Division Series by the Cleveland Indians, who swept them in three straight.
The Sox were the best offensive club in the majors, but the retirement of David Ortiz takes a huge weapon out of their lineup. It's doubtful they'll score as many runs as they did a year ago.
Correspondingly, the Sox vastly improved their rotation with Sale, giving them three front-line starters and, in theory, a chance to go further into the postseason in 2017.
So deep are the Sox, in fact, that they now have seven established starters, a surplus that has them positioned to move one arm.
It may take some time for the market to develop, as clubs explore what's available from other teams and in free agency.
"I don't know what that will be,'' Dombrowski said. "We'll just kind of wait and see what takes place. I think a lot is dependent on other things that need to shake out. So our depth in starting pitching is somewhat new to people. They need time to analyze that. I had a couple clubs approach me about that [inside the Rule 5 draft] this morning. Again, we're not jumping. We'll just wait and see what happens.''
Dombrowski could choose to move either Drew Pomeranz or Clay Buchholz, though it would seem dumping Buchholz's $13.5 million contract would be his preference.
That would enable Dombrowski to get closer to the $195 million luxury tax threshold, which he has said is a preference not a mandate.
"I have a preference [in choosing which starter to move],’’ he said with a smile. "I won't share that with you, but I have a preference.''
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- On Wednesday afternoon, Dave Dombrowski was asked what else he might be searching for to complete his roster.
Dombrowski, noting that Travis Shaw had been dealt away in the trade that brought the Red Sox reliever Tyler Thornburg, said the Red Sox could use another utility infielder to compete with left-handed-hitting Marco Hernandez.
On Thursday morning, Dombrowski found a familiar body in the unlikeliest of places.
The Sox selected Josh Rutledge from the Colorado Rockies in the Rule 5 draft. Rutledge, who was once obtained in exchange for outfielder Shane Victorino, spent parts of two seasons with the Red Sox, posting a slash line of .276/.338/.358 with a homer and 13 RBI in 67 games.
He missed most of last season with a knee injury and was outrighted by the Sox last month, becoming a free agent. He signed a minor league deal with the Rockies, but was unprotected by the Rockies and made available in Thursday's draft.
"We always liked him,'' said Dombrowski. "He thought his opportunity to play at the big league level was better [in Colorado]. But it was a situation for us, we looked at our club and we thought we might need a right-handed [hitting] utility infielder. We looked over the list and we like what he can do for our ballclub. So he was on obvious choice for us.''
Rutledge will compete against Marco Hernandez to become another bench player to team with Brock Holt on the Red Sox roster.
Deven Marrero is also a righthand-hitting infielder, but his strength is defense and he's yet to prove he can hit major league pitching.
"I'd rather have someone [competing] who can swing the bat a little bit more,'' said Dombrowski. "I think [Rutledge] lines up to be on our club. We'll see what happens in spring training, but we know him, we like him. There looks like there's a path for him.''
Drafting Rutledge cost the Red Sox just $50,000 and he must remain on the team's 25-man roster all season or, be offered back to the Rockies and placed on waivers.
The Sox also lost two players in the Rule 5 major league draft. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim chose right-handed pitcher Justin Haley, while the Baltimore Orioles chose outfielder Aneury Tavarez.