Tavarez, Sox take tough loss in Seattle
Right-hander allows six runs (three earned) in 4 1/3 innings
SEATTLE -- There were no bowling ball theatrics for Julian Tavarez on Monday night in Seattle.
This time, with the game at a critical juncture, Tavarez hopped off the mound and fielded a bunt from Yuniesky Betancourt and threw the ball to first, straight-armed instead of under-handed, as he had done twice in previous weeks.
Tavarez had what in bowling terms would be a gutter-ball, as his throw skipped past first baseman Kevin Youkilis, allowing a run to score. It was a tone-setter during a sloppy five-run fifth inning in which things unraveled for the Red Sox in a 9-4 loss.
"My mind was ready to get the ball and make a hard throw to first base," said Tavarez. "I didn't make a good throw. If I made a good throw, I had him by half a foot. It's just everything went wrong today."
It was Tavarez's first loss since May 11. The rubber-armed righty gave up six hits and six runs (three earned) over 4 1/3 innings.
"It's baseball," said the typically philosophical Tavarez. "I didn't do anything different today than I've been doing. I just challenged the hitter, worked quickly. Just got a little behind in the count today. That's why I love this game so much, there's always tomorrow. I'll get back on the mound Saturday or Sunday and I'm not going to change anything."
But the Red Sox would very much love to change their luck at Safeco Field, where they've lost six in a row dating back to July 22, 2006.
There was one positive development for the visitors. By playing a clean game at first base, Youkilis established a new club record with his 120th errorless game at the position, snapping the previous record of Stuffy McInnis (1921).
Aside from that, the night was pretty much a downer.
Whatever hope the Red Sox had of a comeback was thwarted in the seventh, when Kenji Johjima (two-run shot) and Adrian Beltre struck back-to-back prodigious home runs off Mike Timlin to take a 9-2 lead.
It was very much a topsy-turvy inning for Timlin, who ducked a flying broken bat of Ben Broussard, taking some of the splintering lumber on his glove.
"I made a good pitch, snapped his bat, just glad I saw the bat in the corner of my eye because I was following the ball," said Timlin.
And the gopher balls, both of which came on the first pitch?
"The home runs were location," Timlin said. "I missed my location a little bit to Johjima. Beltre's was a decent pitch, he went out and got it and golfed it out."
For whatever reason, Safeco has been a house of horrors for Timlin, a venue in which he's gone 0-4 with a 10.32 ERA.
"It's strange. I don't get very good results here," Timlin said.
Boston's only burst of momentum in this one came in the top of the third. Down 1-0, Coco Crisp led off with a single to right and Jeff Weaver then committed an error on a poor bunt by Julio Lugo. With runners on second and third and nobody out, J.D. Drew hit a grounder toward the middle that second baseman Jose Lopez couldn't get a handle on. It was ruled a two-run single and the Sox had a 2-1 lead.
But it all fell apart for Boston after that. Tavarez opened the fifth by giving up a double to Beltre. Then came Tavarez's bad throw on Betancourt's sacrifice bunt attempt.
"Like they did with us, they gave us a chance," Francona said. "We turned right around, they're trying to give us an out and we don't take it. So many times it ends up doing exactly what happened."
Third baseman Lowell tried to call Tavarez off and make the play himself.
"I thought it was too late," Tavarez said. "Mike Lowell is one of the greatest at third base. I went to the tape and saw when I got the ball, I had a better chance than Mike Lowell."
Up stepped Willie Bloomquist, who drilled a single up the middle to tie the game at 2. Ichiro Suzuki walked and the Red Sox were in serious trouble, as the bases were loaded with nobody out.
Lopez smashed a two-run single past a diving Lowell and the Mariners had themselves a 4-2 lead. With the bases loaded and one out, Sox manager Terry Francona lifted Tavarez in favor of Kyle Snyder. After getting Ben Broussard on a popup, Snyder had a control meltdown, walking two consecutive batters to make it 6-2.
"He comes in and the first hitter, he gets the popup," Francona said. "That's obviously a pivotal part of the game and he made some real close pitches. I know, again, you're hoping, we want everything to be a strike. That's part of the reason we bring him in in those situations."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.