Beckett comes up short in battle of aces, 5-4

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Beckett comes up short in battle of aces, 5-4

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
SEATTLE It wasnt quite the pitchers dream match-up that some predicted at Safeco Field, and Josh Beckett almost didnt make it out of the first inning.

Despite the first frame breakdown, the Sox very nearly came back against the hapless Mariners before falling by a 5-4 score at Safeco Field in a fitting debut to the Wily Mo Pena Era in Seattle.

Ichiro Suzuki made a resounding opening statement by hammering the first Beckett offering of the evening and launching it into the right field seats for a quick 1-0 lead for the Mariners. The first onslaught didnt end until five runs had crossed the plate and Seattle rookie outfielder Casper Wells had also launched his own two-run homer off the Sox ace.

After the first inning stumble, Beckett managed to get through four more innings without allowing another run, fanning six Seattle batters along the way.

But the challenge had been set with Sox facing a steep uphill climb.

It looked like the Sox were going to go out with little more than a whimper as Hernandez was dealing through the first five innings, and Bostons only rally was snuffed out when Jacoby Ellsbury was called out in a hellacious home plate collision with Josh Bard. Ellsbury was off and running on a Dustin Pedroia fly ball to right field, but Ichiro threw a one-hop bullet to home plate that beat the Sox centerfielder. Ellsburys knee caught Bard in the face and it looked like the Ms catcher bobbled the ball from glove to his throwing hand and home plate ump Mark Ripperger originally called him out.

But the umps pulled together for a conference and called Ellsbury out on a play that ended the ending. The Sox finally did catch fire in the top of the sixth as two-run homers from Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia wobbled King Felix and pulled Boston within a single run. Hernandez managed to give the Ms seven innings, but surrendered an uncharacteristic nine hits and four runs to a Sox offense that continues to impress.

The Seattle bullpen managed to navigate through the final innings, and Brandon League wrapped up his 28th save of the season in the Ms win in the middle game of their three-game series.

Player of the Game: Ichiro Suzuki. Its been an uncharacteristically down year for the Seattle right fielder used to living well above the .300 batting average mark. On Saturday the Japanese import showed why hes still got it. Ichiro slammed Josh Becketts first pitch into the right field stands for a solo home run that sparked a five-run uprising against Beckett, and once again he was the sparkplug for the Ms offense. He also showed off his defensive prowess in the fourth inning when he nailed one of the speediest base runners in the Majors, Jacoby Ellsbury, attempting to score from third base on a sacrifice fly. Ichiros one hop toss from medium right field beat Ellsbury to the plate and saved a run that proved crucial in Bostons loss.

Honorable Mention: Jacoby Ellsbury appeared to jar the ball loose in the fourth inning in a mad collision with Josh Bard at home plate, and ignited the Boston offense with a two-run bomb in the bottom of the sixth inning. The shot was 10 rows deep in the right field bleachers as Ichiro attempted his Spiderman act climbing up the wall to potentially make a play on the scalded ball. With the home run, Ellsbury became the first 2020 player for the Red Sox since Nomar Garciaparra back during the 1997 baseball season.

The Goat: Josh Beckett managed to quiet things down after nailing the pooch in the first inning, but he needed to be better from the start against Felix Hernandez. Theres no excuse for one of baseballs best pitchers to very nearly get bounced from the first inning by the worst offensive team in baseball. It appears that both John Lackey and Beckett struggled without a book against the young Seattle hitters, but eight hits, five runs and only 99 pitches in five innings isnt good enough.

Turning Point: The Red Sox could have started their comeback rally early enough if things had broken correctly, but a perfect throw from Ichiro cut down Jacoby Ellsbury at the plate during the fourth inning rally. The home plate ump appeared confused and actually called Ellsbury safe immediately after the play, but was overruled after a conference between umpires. That drew the ire of Terry Francona as he was ejected from the game, and the run proved to be key in a one-run ballgame that ended in favor of Seattle. It took a perfect throw from Ichiro and a perfect hold from Josh Bard to cut Ellsbury down at the plate, and both players executed beautifully.

By the Numbers: 6 the number of Red Sox players in the 2020 club in franchise history among a group that includes Ellis Burks, Nomar Garciaparra and John Valentin. Jacoby Ellsbury joined them with a two-run bomb on Saturday night that marked his 20th home run this year. Ellsbury is still attempting to become the first Sox player with 25 homers and 25 stolen bases in a single season.

Quote of Note: I knew the throw had to be on the money for him to get me. When it was in the air I knew it was going to be close, and unfortunately that would have been the tying run looking at it now. Great play by Ichiro and a great play by Bard to hold onto it. Jacoby Ellsbury talking about the fourth inning play that saw him get cut down at the plate in a train-wreck collision with Josh Bard that proved to be the difference in the game.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Broadcasting role unlikely for Ortiz, who met with Red Sox this week

Broadcasting role unlikely for Ortiz, who met with Red Sox this week

BOSTON - It's a tad ironic the Red Sox met with David Ortiz on Tuesday about his post-playing career, and then the offense went out and did nothing and Xander Bogaerts was publicly lamenting Ortiz's absence two days later.

John Henry, Tom Werner, Ortiz and his agent, Fern Cuza, met at Fenway Park on Tuesday to discuss the retired slugger’s future role with the organization, team president Sam Kennedy said. 

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Nothing's imminent, but there's one thing Ortiz is unlikely to do with the Sox in the near future: broadcasting. He could still do some of that in the postseason for say, FOX, but it appears an arrangement with NESN isn't in the cards for now, per Kennedy.

Ortiz's role with the Red Sox is still expected to be wide-ranging, something bigger than the standard alumnus agreement. He seems set on taking his time, enjoying his retired life, saying over the weekend he wants to be able to give the job the time it deserves. 

Kennedy in April was unsure if anything would get done this year. 

As for the team's play without Ortiz, and Bogaerts' comments?

"This is an incredibly talented ballclub," Werner said Friday at a luncheon benefitting the Red Sox Foundation and the Foundation To Be Named Later. "I’m really not terribly concerned. Like all fans, I’m a bit frustrated when we don’t give great pitching run support.

"We struggled the last couple of nights. It’s frustrating to think that Chris Sale, who I think is the best pitcher in the American League, doesn’t have much run support. But it’s April. I've been taught to not really look at the standings 'til July. Frustrated by the past two days, but look at the standings, and we’re only one win behind the Cubs. So you know, I mean I wish we were playing a little bit better,  but the team is going to bounce back."

Werner reiterated the Sox have room in their budget to add players ahead of the trade deadline.


 

Red Sox-Cubs lineups: Pedroia hits sixth, Pomeranz on mound

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Red Sox-Cubs lineups: Pedroia hits sixth, Pomeranz on mound

The offensively challenged Red Sox welcome the defending world champion Cubs (something you haven’t been able to write since 1909) to Fenway Park tonight for a three-game series. 

Boston (11-10) has the fewest home runs in the majors (11) and is tied for next-to-last with Toronto in the American League in runs scored (78). The Red Sox scored only once in the two-game sweep by the Yankees (on an RBI groundout by Chris Young in the ninth inning Wednesday). 

They turn to left-hander Drew Pomeranz (1-1, 4.60 ERA) tonight against Cubs right-hander Jake Arrieta (3-0, 3.65), who flirted with a no-hitter at Fenway (7 2/3, 10 strikeouts in a 2-0 Chicago win) the last the time Cubs visited in 2014. 

Dustin Pedroia (.242) is hitting sixth for the first time in his career and Xander Bogaerts (.313) leads off for the Red Sox.

Earlier Friday, the Red Sox have added utility man Chase d’Arnaud - acquired off waivers from the Atlanta Braves - to the 25-man roster and called up right-handed reliever Ben Taylor from Triple-A Pawtucket.

To make room on the roster, lefty reliever Robbie Ross Jr. and utility man Steve Selsky were optioned to Pawtucket. 

The full lineups: 

CUBS
Kyle Schwarber DH
Kris Bryant 3B
Anthony Rizzo 1B
Ben Zobrist LF
Addison Russell SS
Willson Contreras C
Jason Heyward RF
Javier Báez 2B
Albert Almora CF

Jake Arrieta RHP 

RED SOX
Xander Bogaerts SS
Andrew Benintendi LF
Mookie Betts RF
Hanley Ramirez DH
Mitch Moreland 1B
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Christian Vazquez C
Marco Hernandez 3B

Drew Pomeranz LHP