BOSTON -- Up until this point in the season, the first inning of a game had been the least of Red Sox rookie Allen Webster’s issues.
Webster entered Sunday’s start against the Seattle Mariners having given up no runs in the first inning of any of his five previous starts, as opposing hitters were just 2-for-16 against him. That changed quickly on Sunday, however, as the Mariners jumped all over the right-hander for five hits and three runs in their first six at-bats on their way to an 8-6 win and series sweep.
Webster lasted 4 1/3 innings in the game, surrendering a season-high six runs on eight hits and ending his streak of consecutive quality starts at three. The loss was Boston’s eighth straight.
“Overall, I felt like I had good command with my pitches,” Webster said. “Just left them over the plate and they put the ball in play and they found holes.”
Despite the damage done, the first inning could have been a lot worse for Webster as the Mariners ran into two outs on the bases. Leadoff man Austin Jackson, who reached on a swinging bunt single that Webster made a failed attempt to field, got himself caught in a rundown between third and home on a Robinson Cano grounder to Webster. Two batters later, Kyle Seager hit a single down the line at third that Will Middlebrooks was able to recover quickly and get Kendrys Morales out trying to move from first to third.
Seeing that Webster was struggling even with the extra help, pitching coach Juan Nieves made a trip to the mound after Webster surrendered his fifth hit.
“He told me to keep doing what you’re doing because I was throwing strikes,” Webster said. “Just keep pounding the zone and just keep attacking.”
Webster seemed to respond to the advice, striking out Chris Denorfia and going on to throw a perfect second and third inning. However, he once again faltered in his next two innings, putting the leadoff man on each time and giving up three more runs after the Red Sox had taken a 5-3 lead against Seattle starter Hisashi Iwakuma.
“They bunched their hits together,” manager John Farrell said. “The thing that we continue to stress is the unanswered runs. When we score, the ability to put up a zero is key. For us to snap out of where we are, it’s going to come from more consistency on the mound.”
After receiving quality starts in 11 of their 16 games from Aug. 5-21, the Red Sox went without one in their series against Seattle, leading to a taxing amount of innings that needed to be thrown by their bullpen. And on a day when Webster seemed to figure things out after a rocky first, the trouble he encountered in the fourth and fifth after being given a lead were a large blow that cost the Red Sox yet another chance to win.
“I got on a good roll, put up some zeros, I just left some balls over the middle of the plate and they hit them,” Webster said. “Today it didn't work out for me.”