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SEATTLE — Not only did Bobby Valentine show up at Safeco Field to manage the Red Sox on Monday, John Henry walked him into the clubhouse at 9:40 a.m.
A security guard at the entrance welcomed Valentine with a cheery hello then asked Henry to see some identification before he was allowed in.
It’s not every day when the principal owner of the opposing team shows up at Safeco, apparently.
But then these are not normal days for the Red Sox. Their losing streak reached seven games with a 4-1 setback against the Mariners.
You have to go back to 2001, when the Sox lost nine straight from Aug. 25 to Sept. 4, to find a losing streak that long. The Sox have been outscored, 58-16, on their road trip, 37-6 in the last four games.
It was seen as progress that Monday’s game was at least competitive.
“I think the guys are very mentally and physically tired,” said Valentine, whose team has played 14 days in a row. “They need a night off here. Come back and it’ll feel like two nights. Got to kick it in. We’ve got to have better at-bats.”
Valentine was in a better mood before the game, cracking jokes about his breakfast meeting with Henry.
“I always feel good after breakfast,” he said. “It’s one of my favorite meals.”
Valentine ruefully apologized to those who thought Henry and general manager Ben Cherington had come to Seattle to fire him.
“For any of you who are sorry that I didn’t get fired, I’m sorry that you’re sorry,” he said. “But I don’t think I did this morning, if that’s what you thought was going to happen.”
The Sox didn’t help their manager’s job security. They took a 1-0 lead in the first inning then committed two errors in the fourth inning that helped the Mariners score all four of their runs.
Clay Buchholz (11-5) was stuck with a loss despite pitching well for seven innings.
It was the 12th loss in the last 15 games for the Sox, now 62-74. They are on a pace to lose 88 games.
“Playing in Boston, it can take a toll on you mentally,” Buchholz said. “Given the fact we’re not really playing good baseball and not finding a way to win in all aspects of the game, it’s pretty tough. It’s tough to deal with. But it’s a game and stuff happens. We’ve got to find a way to push through it.
“It’s one of those things. Everybody is going out and pitching like they have to be the guy to stop it and every time a guy goes up to the plate to hit, they have to hit a home run or have to find a way to get on base. You start pressing a little bit and the job gets harder than it really should be.”
Only second baseman Dustin Pedroia seems capable of rising above the misery. He was 2 for 3 with a double, a walk, and a stolen base.
Pedroia doubled with two outs in the first and scored on a single by Cody Ross. The Sox were otherwise hitless in five at-bats with runners in scoring position against Jason Vargas (14-9) and two relievers.
Cherington feels the losing streak is at least partly the result of the Aug. 25 trade that sent Josh Beckett and Adrian Gonzalez to the Dodgers.
The Sox, he said, are showing enough effort.
It’s talent they lack in the wake of several trades and myriad injuries.
“A lot of that is simply because the roster is at a different point. It’s different than it will be down the road,” he said.
“We’re trying to learn things about guys. Sometimes that doesn’t put us in a position to be as competitive to win games. It’s hard to watch. It’s a reflection on all of us, mostly me. It’s the painful part of the process. We made a big deal because we felt it would give us the best chance to build the next really great Red Sox team, but we’re in that painful part of the process where things aren’t going well right now.”
One of the prospects obtained in the Dodgers trade, infielder Ivan De Jesus, made his debut with the Sox when he pinch hit in the seventh inning. He grounded into a force play.
Catcher Ryan Lavarnway, another prospect who is getting a look, wasn’t in the mood for excuses.
“We just need to be better,” he said. “We can’t feel sorry for ourselves or let frustration get the better of us. We’re a better team than this. We’re better players than this. Trying is not enough right now. We’ve got to just be better.”