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Mariners' bats go quiet in rubber game vs. Sox

June 24, 2018

BOSTON -- Chris Sale had his fastball humming on Sunday. And that wasn't a good thing for a Mariners team trying to pull out a season-series win over the Red Sox.Boston's ace fired seven scoreless innings on four hits with 13 strikeouts in a 5-0 win at Fenway Park, finishing

BOSTON -- Chris Sale had his fastball humming on Sunday. And that wasn't a good thing for a Mariners team trying to pull out a season-series win over the Red Sox.
Boston's ace fired seven scoreless innings on four hits with 13 strikeouts in a 5-0 win at Fenway Park, finishing up with a 100.5 mph fastball to set down Mike Zunino for his final out on the fastest pitch he's ever thrown as a starter in his nine-year career.
Sale is now 6-1 with a 1.95 ERA in nine starts against Seattle.
"I think it was his best," said Mariners designated hitter Nelson Cruz, who managed a fourth-inning triple in a 1-for-4 day. "He's really tough, even when he's not at his best. So you can imagine what it was looking like today. It feels like he's right on top of you. He's got long arms and legs and it feels like the ball is on top of you."

Mariners lefty Marco Gonzales matched Sale's zeros for four innings, but gave up three runs on four hits in the fifth and then a two-run homer to Mitch Moreland in the sixth as the Red Sox pulled away to win the season series, 4-3.
The Mariners felt the Red Sox might have begun picking up signs or seeing something in Gonzales' delivery after he struck out the side in the fourth and was breezing on just one hit over 62 pitches at that point.
"I thought so. It's unfortunate," said Gonzales. "I was making pitches and competing and their swings looked a little too good on some of those pitches. You know, that's how the game is.
"I'm not going to make accusations or anything. We've seen it from these guys time and time again. But yeah, up and down the lineup after the fifth inning, I thought it looked a lot different out there."
Gonzales (7-5, 4.04 ERA) had been sailing through a strong season until this road trip, but he wound up allowing five runs on seven hits over six frames to the Red Sox and totaled 11 runs on 15 hits -- including four homers -- in 12 1/3 innings in his two starts against the AL East front-runners.

"They made some adjustments," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "But I thought his stuff was as good as we've seen Marco all year. In the fourth, he went through 2-3-4 in their lineup and struck out the side. They put some good at-bats together and started to get things going, but Marco threw the ball well. His stuff is certainly really good. I know everyone is concerned about his workload, but he looks good out there. They just made some adjustments against him."
The Mariners have gone 1-5 to open their East Coast road trip against American League East powers Boston and New York and now head to Baltimore for a four-game set against the last-place Orioles.
Seattle still has the fourth-best record in franchise history through 78 games at 47-31, but dropped 4 1/2 games back of the Astros in the AL West.

The Mariners played Boston tough in the season series, splitting four games in Seattle before going 1-2 at Fenway, but they weren't taking any positives from that after Sunday's whitewash.
"We didn't come here to win one game and lose two," Cruz said. "You want to win everything, but it is what it is. They beat us and played better than us."
Cruz extended his hit streak to eight games with a triple in the fourth, but was stranded there on a Ryon Healy strikeout. The only other time Seattle advanced a runner past first came in the seventh, when Healy singled and Guillermo Heredia worked a two-out walk.
But that's when Sale geared up and blew a high fastball past Zunino on the hardest pitch of his starting career, exceeding a 100.4 mph heater that Zunino took for a ball on a fifth-inning at-bat.

The Mariners couldn't get much going against Sale and when they did, he got some help from his defense as right fielder Mookie Betts pulled in deep drive by Mitch Haniger at the top of the wall with two out and one on in the sixth. By Statcast™'s projections, a similar 371-foot drive with the same exit velocity and launch angle would have been a home run eight out of 10 times between 2015-17 at all MLB parks.
"You're hoping to get a mistake," said Servais. "Mitch Haniger put a really good swing on the ball he hit to right field that Mookie caught. But you're not going to get many chances. You're hoping to string a couple hits together and somebody pops one out of the ballpark. It just didn't happen today. He is one of the premier guys in the league for a reason. When he has that kind of stuff and command of it, it's pretty tough."

Cruz hadn't hit a triple since 2016 and totaled just 12 in his first 14 Major League seasons. But the big man added one to that tally in the fourth inning with an unusual stop-and-start effort as he braked to a halt midway between second and third, thinking he was going to be thrown out, then geared back up and coasted in standing as Betts struggled to get the ball out of the right-field corner.
"I just wanted to show my speed -- I can stop and still make a triple," Cruz said with a smile. "Actually I saw the hands up [from third-base coach Scott Brosius], so I was like, 'Oh, I'm going to be thrown out by a lot, so let me go back.'"

"I think we're all a little disappointed. We had a couple games within our reach there that we let get away from us. We didn't have a great week. We'll turn the page and get over to Baltimore and hopefully get it going again. We need everybody chipping in -- the offense, bullpen, starting pitching, everybody doing their job and we'll be fine. We've got a good club. We knew this was going to be a tough stretch."
-- Servais, after his team went 6-7 in a 13-game span against the Angels, Yankees and Red Sox
Felix Hernandez (6-6, 5.14 ERA) faces Orioles right-hander Andrew Cashner (2-8, 4.72) on Monday at 4:05 p.m. PT as the Mariners open a four-game series that culminates their 10-game East Coast road trip. Despite a career-high ERA, Hernandez has pitched better of late, allowing two or fewer runs in three of his last four starts. He's 4-1 with a 3.09 ERA in seven career starts at Camden Yards.

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.