Red Sox

BSJ Game Report: Mariners 6, Red Sox 5 – Starting pitching flops again

SEATTLE -- All you need to know about the Red Sox' 6-5 loss to the Mariners, complete with BSJ analysis and insight.

BOX SCORE

HEADLINES

Rodriguez inefficient: Since the start of spring training, the Red Sox have been emphasizing Eduardo Rodriguez to be more efficient and pitch deeper into games. Alex Cora made a point of talking about it after one of the lefty's first spring starts in the hope that Rodriguez would make some adjustments. But in his first start of 2019, Rodriguez's issues were all-too familiar. He needed 31 pitches to get through the first and issued a four-pitch walk to lefty Jay Bruce. He cleaned it up a bit in the second and third, but still, was at 86 pitches through four innings. Needing to preserve his bullpen, Cora sent him back out for the fifth and lived to regret it: after an error and a single, Rodriguez grooved a fastball to Bruce, who hit it out for a three-run shot and a five-run lead for the Mariners. For now, Rodriguez remains a tease -- a pitcher who sports plus stuff and a complete pitch mix, but doesn't always execute and can't see to put hitters away and pitch deep into games.

Bullpen responds: After Rodriguez only got them 13 outs, Red Sox relievers stepped up and gave the Red Sox a chance. Heath Hembree tossed an inning and two-thirds of scoreless ball and was soon followed by Tyler Thornburg and Hector Velazquez, each of whom contributed strong innings and didn't allow a run. Combined, the trio gave Sox 3.2 innings. That bought the offense time to catch up, but the lineup was muted. Still, it's encouraging to see Thornburg turn in a strong inning, allowing only a walk, while getting his fastball up to 95 mph and displaying better command of his breaking pitches. The concern, of course, is that the bullpen has been used a lot in the first three games and there are eight more games in the next eight days before a break in the schedule -- two off-days in the span of three, sandwiched around the home opener - provides some opportunity for the relievers to catch their breath.

Moore nearly gives it away: The Sox mounted a rally in the ninth, with considerable assistance from Seattle third baseman Dylan Moore. With two outs and two on in the inning, Moore made errors on three consecutive plays, each of them leading to a run for the Red Sox. He fired a high throw on a shot hit by Mookie Betts, booted a ball hit by Rafael Devers and a bounced a throw on a ball hit by J.D. Martinez. That brought Xander Bogaerts to the plate with the potential tying run on third, but Bogaerts took three straight called strikes to strand the runner and end the game.

Second guess: It's understandable that Cora