The Fernando Rodney Experience was overshadowed by a left field fiasco when Mookie Betts delivered the game-winning sacrifice fly Thursday night in the Mariners’ 2-1 loss (box score) to the Red Sox in the opener of a four-game series at Safeco Field.
Facing Rodney in the ninth, Betts stuck with a low 1-2 changeup on the seventh pitch of the at-bat and lifted a routine fly to left fielder Rickie Weeks. The longtime second baseman roamed slowly to his left, but the ball ricocheted off his glove before hitting the ground. Brock Holt scored from third after leading off with a double, which Weeks also misplayed.
Betts’ fly was probably deep enough to score Holt regardless. Still, Weeks, who converted to outfield this season, shook his head and pounded his glove. He entered the game in the bottom of the eighth to pinch-hit for Brad Miller, who was making the first start of his career in left.
1B Logan Morrison pusheed home the Mariners’ run with a weak RBI groundout in the sixth to tie at one. That against Boston starter Joe Kelly. Nelson Cruz continued his MVP-caliber start, going 3-for-3 with a walk and the lone run to raise his average to a league-leading .361. 3B Kyle Seager checked in with two hits.
The Mariners went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position.
LHP Roenis Elias gave up a solo homer to RF Shane Victorino in the fourth inning, but otherwise kept the Red Sox off-balance. He recorded his third consecutive quality start by allowing one run over 6.1 innings. He’s yet to pick up a win this season in four outings.
Rodney (1-2) was tagged with the loss.
“You live with it. It’s just the way it is,” said manager Lloyd McClendon of replacing Miller with Weeks late in the game. “Every team in baseball has warts. Nobody has a perfect team. I’m not going to sit here and say the play in the ninth inning cost us the game, because it didn’t . . . They got (the runner to third) and it was a sacrifice fly with an error. Those things happen. That’s baseball. The best of ‘em make errors, trust me.”
Asked before the game if he still considered himself a shortstop, Miller said “I am . . . no question.” In the meantime, he’s borrowing one of Dustin Ackley’s outfield gloves. Miller was 1-for-3 and didn’t make an error. . . CF Austin Jackson was scheduled to run, field fly balls and take batting practice Thursday as he makes his way back from a sprained right ankle. He could go out on a rehab assignment this weekend. “My guess It’s gonna take a couple days,” McClendon said. “But we’ll see. He may be good enough to go (Friday)” . . . The Mariners dropped to 15-19. The Red Sox improved to 17-18.
LHP J.A. Happ (3-1, 3.29 ERA) looks to continue his strong 2015 campaign Friday night. The 32-year-old is 3-0 with a 3.60 ERA over his past four starts. He is 3-3 with a 4.60 ERA in nine career appearances (eight starts) against Boston. The Red Sox counter with RHP Clay Buchholz (2-4, 5.73 ERA). He is 2-1 with a 3.71 ERA in four starts against the Mariners, all at Safeco Field.