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Bruce hits first homer as Mariners batter Red Sox 6-5

By CHRIS TALBOTTMarch 31, 2019
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Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez, right, looks away as Seattle Mariners' Jay Bruce rounds the bases behind on his three-run home run in the fifth inning of a baseball game Saturday, March 30, 2019, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
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Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez, right, looks away as Seattle Mariners' Jay Bruce rounds the bases behind on his three-run home run in the fifth inning of a baseball game Saturday, March 30, 2019, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

SEATTLE (AP) — Five games into the season, Seattle manager Scott Servais had a message for Mariners fans: Don’t go to sleep.

The Mariners once again battered Boston’s starting pitchers but nearly handed over another game in the ninth inning, holding on to beat the Red Sox 6-5 on Saturday night. Seattle started the ninth with a comfortable 6-2 lead, but young third baseman Dylan Moore committed three straight errors leading to three runs in his first major league start.

The nervy ending came a night after Red Sox pinch-hitter Mitch Moreland hit a three-run home run in the ninth to steal a 7-6 victory.

“I will say for all Mariners fans in the Midwest and the east part of the country, stay up late and watch the end of our games,” Servais said. “You never know what you’re going to get.”

Jay Bruce hit his first home run for Seattle, a three-run shot to center field, and the heavy-hitting Mariners continued to dominate Boston’s starting pitching in the win.

The Mariners have hit a home run in every game this season and continued to beat up Red Sox starters, with Bruce helping to chase Eduardo Rodriguez (0-1) in the fifth inning. Eight Seattle batters have hit 13 combined home runs, with nine coming against the defending World Series champions.

“We’ve got a group of guys who come in here, we know what we want to do, we know what approach we want to take,” Bruce said. “What I’ve been most impressed with is the consistency of the work pregame. The game is the game, there are a lot of things you can’t control. But everybody comes here to work. It’s been crisp, consistent and I think it kind of echoes throughout the whole clubhouse.”

Red Sox starters Chris Sale, Nathan Eovaldi and Rodriguez have given up 20 hits and 18 earned runs in the series. Bruce’s homer gave the Mariners 24 runs in their first 22 innings of the series. They’ve scored 21 of 42 runs this season on homers.

“I think our guys are prepared going into games,” Servais said. “You see early in games we’re ready to hit. It doesn’t take us one time through the lineup for guys to make adjustments.”

Boston manager Alex Cora had hoped Rodriquez could provide early help for his much-questioned bullpen with a goal of six or seven innings in the start. But the Mariners started hot with two runs in the first on RBI hits from Tim Beckham and Ryon Healy, both surging to start the season. Rodriquez reached 80 pitches in the fourth inning and was pulled after throwing 105 over 4 2/3 innings. He allowed eight hits, five earned runs, with five strikeouts and three walks.

“We don’t expect this but they’re human,” Cora said of his starters. “We know that’s not going to be the norm. They’re going to be OK.”

Seattle starter Mike Leake was efficient in his first start after a dodgy preseason, scattering seven hits over six innings, with seven strikeouts and two walks. Leake (1-0) allowed RBI singles to Moreland in the second and J.D. Martinez in the third and got out of a jam in the fifth when he struck out Bogaerts with two men on base.

Seattle seemed on its way to an easy victory until Boston scored three times in the ninth thanks to Moore, who committed two throwing errors and one fielding error - all with two outs. With the tying run at third base after the third of Moore’s errors, Nick Rumbelow struck out Bogaerts looking for his first save. Bogaerts struck out twice with four runners left on base.

“The only thing that cures something like that is hard work,” Moore said. “You go out every day and work on your craft and get better at what you do.”

TRAINING ROOM

Mariners closer Hunter Strickland was placed on the 10-day injured list with a right lat strain following a blown save in Friday’s 7-6 loss. The right-hander experienced stiffness in the back of his shoulder before giving up a three-run pinch-hit home run to Moreland in the ninth inning. While Strickland’s status is uncertain, the Mariners brought up RHP David McKay and could get help as soon as next week with the return of right-handed reliever Anthony Swarzak, who completed a minor league appearance on Friday night. ... RHP Shawn Armstrong will throw 25 pitches from the mound for the first time Sunday since straining his oblique. ... The Mariners moved third baseman Kyle Seager to the 60-day injured list. Seager is recovering from hand surgery after injuring himself diving for a ball in spring training.

UP NEXT

Red Sox: RHP Rick Porcello (17-7, 4.28 in 2018) makes his season debut after turning in one of his strongest seasons in 2018. Porcello recorded a career best 190 strikeouts, averaging 8.94 per nine innings.

Mariners: LHP Wade LeBlanc (9-5, 3.72 in 2018) makes his first appearance of the season after a quiet spring training in which he made just two starts. LeBlanc pitched 7 2/3 scoreless innings in his last appearance vs. the Red Sox on June 16 last year.

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