BOSTON -- Five days between games does not play well in baseball. The strike zone is difficult to find, and apparently it's also tough to hit and catch the ball. Those are among the deductions reached Tuesday afternoon when the Mariners returned to action following an unscheduled -- and unprecedented -- layoff caused by four days of snow in Cleveland that wiped out an entire four-game series.
The Mariners packed their gear, flew to Boston, and got plowed under by the Red Sox in the opener of a three-game series. Right-hander Jeff Weaver showed the effects of a personal 11-day layoff, wobbling through a 47-pitch first inning, and the Mariners never recovered from a quick deficit, dropping a 14-3 decision to Boston before a sellout crowd of 35,847 at Fenway Park. "We're not looking for excuses, but it looked like we hadn't played in four days," manager Mike Hargrove said. "We pitched like it, we swung the bats like it, we played defense like it. We didn't play like that during Spring Training. "And so, while it was disappointing, it also was understandable." Weaver, who tossed six scoreless innings in his final Spring Training outing on March 30, had none of that magic going for him in his first regular-season start. He walked the first batter he faced and fell behind practically every other batter in the first inning, reaching three-ball counts on eight of the nine batters. Weaver threw 70 pitches during his two-inning stint and just 37 of them were strikes. "We did what we could to keep the guys sharp [in Cleveland], but it's totally different working in the bullpen compared to facing hitters," pitching coach Rafael Chaves said. "It had been a long time since [Weaver] pitched in a game. "I wasn't expecting anything bad to happen, but it did. Now, we have to bounce back. Tomorrow is another day." With any luck, Wednesday night's starter, right-hander Felix Hernandez, had his eyes closed for most of Tuesday. He would have seen Red Sox players running circles around the bases. Boston utilized Weaver's wildness to score four times in the first inning, and added three runs more in the second to launch their home season with a wire-to-wire rout. The last two runs Weaver allowed came on J.D. Drew's first home run with Boston -- a shot to center field on an easy swing. The ball kept going and going until it landed in the front row of seats. By the time it was over, Hargrove had used half of his pitching staff and all 13 of his position players.
Seattle managed just two hits off Red Sox right-hander Josh Beckett and they came back-to-back in the third inning. Catcher Kenji Johjima singled off the base of the Green Monster, went to third on Yuniesky Betancourt's double to right field and scampered home on an infield out.
Johjima's single was the first Mariners hit since the seventh inning of last Wednesday's game against the Athletics in Seattle. They were on the verge of being no-hit in the series opener against the Indians last Friday night at Jacobs Field before it resumed snowing -- and didn't stop for three days.
The rust was thick, from top to bottom of the lineup.
Beckett struck out Ichiro Suzuki three times, only the second time a starting pitcher has fanned Ichiro three times in a game during his six-plus year career. Athletics right-hander Tim Hudson did it on Sept. 19, 2003, in Oakland.
"I haven't faced [Beckett] many times," Ichiro said, "so I don't have [much knowledge] of him."
That is not the case with Mariners right fielder Jose Guillen and Red Sox reliever Brendon Donnelly.
The former Angels teammates renewed their genuine dislike for each other in the eighth inning and both were eventually ejected.
Donnelly replaced Beckett to start the eighth and struck out Guillen on three pitches.
As Guillen walked away from home plate, he noticed that Donnelly was staring at him and saying something.
"It goes way back to when I was with the Angels and got traded," Guillen said. "He got caught cheating once and unfortunately, he keeps running off his mouth."
In a game between the Angels and Nationals last season in Anaheim, Washington manager Frank Robinson accused Donnelly of having a foreign substance on his glove.
The umpires checked it out, found pine tar on the heel of the glove, and Donnelly was ejected.
Although Robinson denied that Guillen "ratted" on his former teammate, there had been bad blood since, as evidenced by Tuesday's incident.
Plate umpire Phil Cuzzi prevented Guillen and Donnelly from fighting and immediately ejected the Mariners' outfielder.
"I was surprised that I was the one who got ejected," Guillen said. "I wasn't the one that started it."
Donnelly remained in the game, promptly hit Johjima with a pitch and was ejected.
"If he's going to hit somebody, hit me, not our catcher," Guillen said.
The Mariners, meanwhile, can look ahead to Wednesday night's game. The less said about the series opener, the better.
"I really don't have to say anything to them because they know it," Hargrove said of the down-and-out opener. "They played hard, but they were just as frustrated and disgusted as I was with our performance."
That said it all.
|"I really don't have to say anything to them because they know it.They played hard, but they were just as frustrated and disgusted as I was with our performance."|
|-- Mike Hargrove|
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.