April 30, 2011: Mariners 2, Red Sox 0

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April 30, 2011: Mariners 2, Red Sox 0

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com

BOSTON The Red Sox have found little remedy for the malaise that has enveloped them this season. Despite a respectable performance and a quality start -- by John Lackey, the Sox fell for the second straight game to the Mariners at Fenway Park, getting shut out, 2-0.

The Mariners entered the game with a record of 12-15 fewer wins than all but two other American League teams. That would be the Orioles and Red Sox, with 11 wins each. Saturdays loss drops the Sox record to 11-15.

Lackey, who went six innings, giving up two runs on seven hits and four walks with three strikeouts, took the loss, his record falling to 2-3 with a 5.65 ERA. The Mariners got a run in the third when Ichiro Suzuki drew a one-out walk, went to third on Chone Figgins single to right and scored on Milton Bradleys double to left.

The Mariners added another run in the sixth when Jack Cust led off with a single, went to second on Michael Saunders single and took third on Brendan Ryans sacrifice bunt. Jack Wilsons sacrifice fly to Jacoby Ellsbury in center scored Cust.

While it was the Red Sox pitching that was their undoing in Fridays loss, it was their inability to put together any type of productive offense in Saturdays shutout. They had 12 baserunners, on six hits and six walks, but could muster no run-producing offense. They left 11 runners on base, and were 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position. Their lack of production with runners in scoring position has plagued the Sox all season. They are 52-for-245 (.212) in such situations.

The Red Sox had several opportunities to get on the scoreboard Saturday, all going for naught. In the first inning, they loaded the bases with one out. But David Ortiz struck out on a Doug Fister slider and J.D. Drew flied out to center ending the inning.

They loaded the bases in the fifth with no outs, but Adrian Gonzalez lined into a double play, Ellsbury being forced at second. Kevin Youkilis fouled out to end the inning.

In the sixth they put runners on third and first with two outs. In the seventh they had runners at second and third with two outs. Each frame ended in futility for the Red Sox offense. In the sixth Jarrod Saltalamacchia fouled out. In the seventh Ortiz flied out to left.

The Red Sox have now been shut out three times this season, tying the Angels and White Sox for most in the American League. Their last shutout came April 19 in Oakland. Lackey also took the loss in that game, again throwing a quality start.

Fister earned the win, improving to 2-4 (2.70). Brandon League earned his seventh save in as many opportunities.

Player of the Game: Doug Fister

The Mariners right-hander held the Red Sox scoreless over 5 23 innigns, improving his record to 2-3 (2.70 ERA). Although he allowed 10 baserunners five hits and a career-high five walks he managed to keep the Sox off the scoreboard, maintaining a tenuous two-run lead.

Fister had just one clean inning, when he retired the side in the second, striking out Jed Lowrie, getting Carl Crawford to ground out and Jarrod Saltalamacchia to fly out. The Sox had enough scoring opportunities against Fister loading the bases in the first and fifth, putting runners in scoring position in the third, fourth, and sixth. But Fister was sufficiently effective to shut down the Sox' offense.

The win was his first on the road this season, and first since Sept. 19, 2010, in Texas. It was his first career scoreless outing on the road, and fifth overall. He lowered his ERA from 3.19 to 2.70. Fister has held opponents to two earned runs or fewer in five of his six starts this season, behind only Jered Weaver and Dan Haren in the AL.

Honorable Mention: John Lackey

Thats John Lackey, said catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Thats the guy that goes out there and just battles. Thats what he did tonight. He pitched his butt off and I just wish we could have got that win for him.
Lackey took the tough-luck loss, going six innings, giving up two runs on seven hits and four walks with three strikeouts. His record falls to 2-3 (5.65). The Red Sox have been shut out three times this season, tied for most in the league. Lackey has taken the loss in the last two, despite posting quality starts in each. He has held opponents to two runs or fewer while pitching at least six innings in each of his last three starts. In that span, he has an ERA of 1.35, giving up three earned runs in 20 innings, after beginning the season with a 15.58 ERA (15 earned runs, 8 23 innings) in his first two starts.

The Mariners third-inning run snapped Lackeys scoreless inning streak at 15, his longest stretch since throwing 22 scoreless innings from Sept. 5 15, 2009, while with the Angels.

The Goat: David Ortiz

There were plenty of goat horns to go around. The Sox were 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position, leaving 11 runners on base. But Ortiz (0-for-4, two strikeouts) was responsible for leaving five runners on base, including two in scoring position with two outs.

With one out and the bases loaded in the first inning, he struck out on a Doug Fister slider (J.D. Drew followed that by flying out to center). In the seventh, with two outs and runners on second and third, he flied out to left to end the Sox last, best scoring chance.

Turning Point: Gonzalez lines into double play

The Sox certainly had enough opportunities to get on the board, as evidenced by the 11 runners they left on base, and the 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position. But, any hope seemed to fade away after the fifth inning. In that frame, the Sox loaded the bases with no outs against Fister. Adrian Gonzalez, their best offensive hope recently, came to the plate. But, Gonzalez lined out to second baseman Jack Wilson, who doubled off Jacoby Ellsbury at second. Kevin Youkilis fouled out to first baseman Justin Smoak,

Although the Sox were able to get runners on base in the sixth, seventh, and ninth, their best scoring opportunity was in the fifth.

By the Numbers: 11
As in 11 runners left on base, and 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position. The Sox futility added up to 11 Saturday night.

Not tonight, said manager Terry Francona, when asked if he had any answers for his teams lack of clutch hitting. Its a lot of the same thing. We get in situations like that and were swinging at a lot of off-speed pitches and not staying in the middle of the field We had a few opportunities and didnt do anything.

Quote of Note:

What are we, 11-15? We started 0-6. So, since then weve actually played OK. But we havent played up to our potential. Thats the good thing is that theres five months of the season left. So a lot of games to be played and we havent played anywhere close to where we want to play and were going to play great ball at some point. We just hope everyone stays patient with us. Its very frustrating for everybody. Everyone in this clubhouse is frustrated. We want to win more than anyone else. We understand the frustrations out there. People pay a lot of good money to come to these games. We know theyre frustrated. Just so everyone knows: Were really frustrated, too. Guys are, this is their lives. This is what they dream about their whole life to do. We want to play well. Were going to play well. Sometimes in life its not when you want it. Sometimes you have to wait a little bit in life.

--Kevin Youkilis on the Red Sox record and performance in April

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

Market for Encarnacion is shrinking, yet Red Sox still don't seem interested

Market for Encarnacion is shrinking, yet Red Sox still don't seem interested

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- As the annual winter meetings get underway today, the market for arguably the best free-agent hitter may be -- against all logic -- lessening.

Edwin Encarnacion, who has averaged 39 homers a year over the last five seasons, should be a player in demand.

But in quick succession, the Houston Astros and New York Yankees, two teams thought to be in the market for Encarnacion, opted to go with older hitters who required shorter deals -- Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday.

Further, the Toronto Blue Jays' signing of Steve Pearce to a two-year deal Monday, coupled with their earlier acquisition of Kendrys Morales, closes the door on a potential return to Toronto for Encarnacion.

Seemingly, all of that would position the Red Sox, in search of a DH to replace the retired David Ortiz, to swoop in and land Encarnacion for far less than they could have imagined only weeks ago.

And yet, it appears as though things would have to change considerably for the Red Sox to reach agreement with Encarnacion.

While the first baseman-DH is known to be Ortiz's first choice as his replacement, for now, the economics don't work for the Sox -- even as Enacarnacion's leverage drops.

Encarnacion is expecting a deal of at least four years, with an average annual value around $20 million.

The Red Sox, industry sources indicate, are very much mindful of the luxury tax threshold. The Sox have, however modestly, gone over the threshold in each of the last two seasons, and even with a bump due to last week's new CBA, the Sox are dangerously close to the 2018 limit of $195 million.

Should the Sox go over for a third straight year, their tax would similarly ratchet up.

That, and the fact that Encarnacion would cost the Sox their first-round pick next June -- for this offseason, compensation for players given a qualifying offer comes under the old CBA rules -- represents two huge disincentives.

It's far more likely that the Sox will seek a cheaper option at DH from among a group that includes Pedro Alvarez and Mike Napoli. Neither is in Encarnacion's class, but then again, neither would cost a draft pick in return, or the long-term investment that Encarnacion is said to be seeking.

Boomer Esiason witnessed Pete Rose hire people to sign autographs

Boomer Esiason witnessed Pete Rose hire people to sign autographs

Boomer Esiason tells Toucher & Rich a story from his early days in Cincinnati when he witnessed Pete Rose overseeing five guys he paid to sign a stack of photographs for fans.