Perhaps a lengthy rain delay or postponement might have been better. The Mariners went into Sunday’s series finale at Fenway Park with the possibility of taking a four-game set from the American League East leaders.
And it grew when they grabbed an early lead on back-to-back doubles from Mitch Haniger and Ty France in the first two at-bats of the game.
But those hopes were buried under an avalanche of pitches out of the strike zone from starter Nick Margevicius.
Margevicius never made it out of a seemingly unending first inning, recording just one out while being charged with four runs on two hits and four walks. The Mariners could never quite recover, losing 5-3.
“Not the way we were hoping to get that one started,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said.
The Mariners will open a four-game series at Minute Maid Park on Monday in Houston against the Astros.
But the bigger issue is exactly what is wrong with Margevicius? He exited his previous outing early due to arm fatigue. And after meeting with Red Sox team doctors after he left the game, they diagnosed him with shoulder fatigue. He will undergo an MRI on Monday in Houston to see if there is any structural damage in his shoulder.
Margevicius is likely headed for a stint on the injured list and the Mariners will have to figure out who will make his start in the six-man rotation, which lines up for Saturday at T-Mobile Park against the Angels.
From his first pitch of the game, Margevicius looked out of sync with his mechanics and possibly hurt. His velocity lagged about 3-4 mph lower on his fastball and breaking ball for his first 15 pitches.
“He didn’t have it out of the chute and it put us behind the eight ball,” Servais said.
After allowing a leadoff single to Kiké Hernandez, Margevicius walked the next two batters, falling behind on 3-1 counts.
It earned a mound visit from pitching Pete Woodworth. After the brief meeting, Margevicius recorded his lone out by striking out Xander Bogaerts.
It was a short-lived reprieve from his struggles.
Christian Vazquez singled to right field to score a run and tie the game at 1-1.
The walks returned as Margevicius issued a bases-loaded free pass to Hunter Renfroe to force a run across. After getting up 0-2 on three pitches to Marwin Gonzalez, Margevicius threw four consecutive balls for another walk and run scored.
At that point, Servais had seen enough and went to reliever Drew Steckenrider, who promptly hit the first batter he faced to score another run, which was charged to Margevicius.
There was some doubt as to whether Margevicius would make this start after leaving his last outing with arm fatigue. But during his throwing sessions and bullpen in between the starts, he showed no issues.
“Coming out of that he felt fine,” Servais said. “But throwing bullpens are different than throwing in a game. The adrenaline gets going. The intensity picks up. You could see early on that he didn’t have it. … We did have a couple of guys that were down in the bullpen today. So you’re hoping he could get us a little bit deeper in the game.”
Steckenrider would allow another run in the second inning. Then Casey Sadler and Ljay Newsome pitched six scoreless innings to give the Mariners a chance to come back.
But there was no come from behind win this time.
The Mariners made it interesting in the fifth inning, picking up two more runs off Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodríguez to cut the lead to 5-3 on back-to-back RBI doubles from Tom Murphy and J.P. Crawford.