Alex Verdugo was drifting back in center field.
In the top of the second inning Saturday, with the Red Sox already in a 1-0 hole, the Mariners’ Kyle Seager unloaded on a Nate Eovaldi cutter. It sent Verdugo back to the warning track in center, where he slowly took his foot off the gas. Verdugo was in the midst of attempting to do two things at once: keeping track of the inbound ball’s flight path while also remaining aware of the wall.
The result wasn’t too kind to the Sox with the ball droppedfor a two-run triple.
Seager eventually scored, too, on a passed ball. Verdugo’s misplay of Seager’s damaging triple, while not the only example, was a precursor to a day defined by sloppy play and mental lapses, resulting in an 8-2 loss.
“I think that’s one of those things,” Verdugo said. “You got a lot of room out there. You can keep going. And you know, hey, that ball should be caught. I feel like I can catch that ball a lot of the time.”
After timely defense defined the Sox’ 6-5 win Friday, untimely blunders ruled Saturday’s loss.
There were three wild pitches, a passed ball, a Xander Bogaerts fielding error on Taylor Trammell’s fielder’s choice in the top of the fifth that enabled Seager to score Seattle’s fifth run, and a breakdown on a cover play at first that allowed the Mariners to score their eighth and final run in the ninth.
On that play, Bobby Dalbec cleanly fielded Sam Haggerty’s ground ball hit to first and flipped it to reliever Phillips Valdez, who didn’t get to the bag quickly enough. Haggerty was ruled safe at first, which enabled Jose Marmolejos, who drew a walk, to score from third. The Sox challenged the play, but were overruled.
Could Dalbec have taken it himself? Possibly. But it was yet another glaring example of why the Red Sox didn’t play well.
“That wasn’t the best game of the season,” manager Alex Cora said. “There were a lot of things that we didn’t do. And like I’ve been saying, for us to win games, we have to play good baseball, solid baseball.”
The Mariners weren’t getting cheated on their swings against Eovaldi, either. His upper-90s fastball didn’t have its normal life. He lost feel for his secondary stuff, including his curveball. The Mariners tagged Eovaldi (3-2, 3.77 ERA) for seven hits and five runs, four of which were earned.
Boston’s bullpen hardly fared any better after Josh Taylor came on in the seventh in relief of Austin Brice and got tagged by Haggerty in the eighth for a two-out, solo homer that gave the Mariners a 6-1 lead.
“I felt like I was behind [in the count] a little bit more than I usually am, trying to throw the curveball in there for strikes,” said Eovaldi, who lasted five innings. “I didn’t have as great command with that today as I normally do, which again, I think it just comes from not having that good extension.”
On the other hand, Mariners starter Chris Flexen tossed seven innings of one-run ball backed by seven strikeouts.
I think he did a really good job of just mixing up his pitches,” said Verdugo, who was 2 for 4 with a double on the day. “Just attacking different parts of the zone. Working the cutter away from righties and into the lefties. He’s got a fastball that was kind of riding up to the to righties.”
The Red Sox are now 7-8 at home this year. Underwhelming play has become a trend for the Sox, who posted losing home records in each of the two previous seasons.
The Red Sox recently managed to get a split against the Chicago White Sox in a four-game set. Now, they are trying to do the same against the Mariners Sunday. They will have their ace on the mound in Eduardo Rodriguez, who is 3-0 this season with a 3.38 ERA.
“We’ve had a few games now in this in this little four-game stretch that have been kind of tough,” Verdugo said. “But you know, we’re a really good team and we’re in there until the end. We’re fighting and at the end of day, we’re going to keep on doing what we do.”