The Mariners lost a game in Boston on Friday night. If you want a positive spin on that, there’s this: At least they found their No. 3 hitter.
Kyle Seager broke out of an 0-for-21 funk with two extra-base hits at Fenway Park, including a 421-foot, three-run home run that got the Mariners within one run with one out in the top of the ninth inning.
Alas, Red Sox closer Matt Barnes got Kyle Lewis to fly out and Evan White to line-out to shortstop to secure the Red Sox’s 6-5 victory, dropping the Mariners (12-8) out of first place in the AL West.
Seager busted out of his slump in his first at-bat with an opposite-field double off the Green Monster. That scored Mitch Haniger, who led off the game with a double off the Monster.
“Good to get (Seager) going,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “You know, when Kyle’s going (well), our offense really does click. He had some really good swings tonight. That’s a good sign here as we move into the weekend for the rest of this series.”
More encouraging signs for the Mariners:
- Center fielder Kyle Lewis had his first two hits of the season, a solid single in the first and a double in the eighth inning. He was 0-for-7 in his first two games after spending the first 17 games of the season on the injured list (knee).
- The bullpen: Right-hander Drew Steckenrider (1.1 inning, three strikeouts) had what Servais called his best outing, and right-hander Ljay Newsome (two innings, three hits, one unearned run, three strikeouts) helped saved the top back-end arms for the weekend.
- The bottom third of the lineup: Dylan Moore, Sam Haggerty and J.P. Crawford combined for two hits, two runs, one RBI, five walks and two strikeouts.
Servais was particularly pleased with Moore, whose struggles at the plate (.107 average) early in the season have been obvious. But Moore drew two walks, stole a base, scored on a Crawford single, and he made yet another defensive gem in the infield. This time it was a diving stop to his right on a hard-hit grounder and a glove-flip for a force out at second.
“Those are some kind of athletic plays, man,” Servais said. “I don’t know if folks know hard that is to do. … Give Dylan a lot of credit. He has not had much luck at all with the bat. I thought he was much better tonight, but it has not taken away from his defense.”
The discouraging moments:
- Yusei Kikuchi had little command and even less tempo on the mound. He allowed five earned runs on six hits, with three walks and only one strikeout.
“YK didn’t quite have the zip on his fastball like he normally does,” Servais said. “It just carried through the zone and it wasn’t as sharp, really from the first inning on. But I thought he battled through it.”
The Mariners had largely been encouraged by what they had seen from Kikuchi in his first three starts of the season. The left-hander entered Friday with a 19-to-6 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 19 innings, having allowed just three home runs in those first three starts.
Friday’s start was a regression to many of Kikuchi’s confounding starts from 2019-20.
Xander Bogaerts hit a two-run home run off Kikuchi in the first inning — a 409-foot shot over the Green Monster and out of Fenway Park. J.D. Martinez added a solo homer in the third inning, his seventh of the season to tie for the major-league lead.
Kikuchi said both home runs came off sliders he left over the plate.
“Give their (Red Sox) guys credit,” Servais said. “They have a really good offensive team and they were on him tonight.”
- Seager was thrown out at third base for the final out of fifth inning after White hit a screamer off the Green Monster. That snuffed out a prime scoring opportunity.
- White, the Gold Glove first baseman, made his first error of the season. It led to an unearned run in the seventh.
Down 6-2 entering the ninth, the Mariners were trying for their eighth comeback victory of the season. The only team in the majors with more comeback wins this season is … the Red Sox, who now have 10.