SEATTLE -- Coco Crisp dressed and walked past a group of reporters last night who had gathered around his locker to ask him about his misplay in the fifth inning, when a hit by Willie Bloomquist scooted past the embattled center fielder for a triple, driving in the second run of a miserable 6-0 loss to the Mariners before 40,817 at Safeco Field.
Before that, Curt Schilling was his usual stand-up self, assuming the blame for not shutting down the Mariners and for a throwing error in Seattles three-run sixth that opened the floodgates and led to Bostons modest two-game winning streak being snapped.
Schilling left one strikeout shy of 3,000 for his career. He struck out seven and could have become the 14th pitcher in major league history to record 3,000 punchouts, but after throwing 104 pitches, and failing for the fourth time to record his 15th win of the season, he will have to wait until Wednesday in Oakland for the milestone.
Schilling pitched for a lineup that excluded Manny Ramírez, who will play left field tonight after being diagnosed with patellar tendinitis in his right knee, and without first baseman Kevin Youkilis, who had the flu. The Sox managed only five hits against three pitchers, including starter Jake Woods, who surrendered three hits and struck out four in his second major league start.
Its huge, said Schilling, when asked about Ramírezs absence. Youre missing a guy who is a legitimate MVP candidate. Thats huge. I keep going back to all the other teams in contention, and theyre all dealing with injuries. You have to have the depth, the talent, and the perseverance. From where I sit, it all starts on the mound. Its all about momentum on the mound. Not being able to do that is frustrating.
Schilling said it wasnt just Ramírez. It was about all 25 players not playing well at the same time.
You dont need me to name names, Schilling said. Its all of us. Youve got to set the tone [on the mound] and maintain momentum. If your team isnt going to score a lot of runs, you cant give up a lot. I just think were playing bad baseball.
Schilling called it a weird game because he felt good, yet didnt pitch well.
People can come up with a lot of reasons, but it is what it is right now, he said. With the injuries and a first baseman who is playing out of position [Mark Loretta] and playing hurt. We did so many things on so many sides of the ball. It had the look and feel of a game where we were going to get some runs, and with this offense, you count on this lineup doing something. You usually have a lineup that takes advantage of that.
Schilling called Crisps misplay an aggressive mistake. Thats what happens when you play aggressive. It turns into a run it shouldnt have been and its 2-0, and it feels almost like 7-0.
Woods, 4-1 with a 3.59 ERA, was claimed off waivers from the Angels Dec. 20. Considered mostly a long reliever with a low-90s fastball, good curveball, and changeup, the lefthander did a nice job of keeping the Sox off balance for five innings.
He was able to defend the 1-0 lead handed to him when Raul Ibanezs two-out double to right field scored Chris Snelling in the first inning, but he didnt come out for the sixth after throwing 88 pitches.
The Sox appeared on the verge of a rally a few times against Woods. In the first inning, Loretta walked and David Ortiz singled to right with one out, but Woods struck out Wily Mo Peña and Mike Lowell swinging. In the second, same thing. The Sox had two base runners after a walk to Gabe Kapler and a single by Dustin Pedroia, but Alex Cora popped to first and Crisp struck out swinging to end the inning.
Woods retired the Sox in order in the third and fourth. In the fifth, Boston again had two on with one out, but Loretta (pop to second) and Ortiz (grounder to first) were retired.
Crisp has his critics, and it would be understandable if one was Schilling after Crisp dived for a ball he had no chance on, Bloomquists liner to right-center. The ball got past Crisp and was retrieved by Kapler, but not before Bloomquist had a triple, which scored Yuniesky Betancourt. Schilling stranded Bloomquist at third by striking out Snelling, his fifth K of the evening.
Schilling, making his teamleading 28th start, last won Aug. 4. The bullpen blew a 5-3 lead for Schilling in his last start against the Yankees. He also pitched well Aug. 15 in a 3-2 loss to the Tigers, going seven innings and allowing two runs.
The Sox are 18-10 in games started by Schilling, and he kept them in last nights game early. Except for Richie Sexsons .389 career average against Schilling, no other Mariner in the starting lineup was hitting better than .250 against the righthander. Unfortunately for the Sox, their lineup couldnt produce.
Schilling didnt help himself in the sixth when errors by he and shortstop Cora led to the Mariners third run. With Jose Lopez at first, Ibanezs grounder up the middle was stopped nicely by Cora, but his shovel toss to Pedroia at second was wide left. The ball got away, was recovered by Schilling, but he made an off-balance throw wide of third in an attempt to get Lopez. The ball got by Lowell, and Lopez scampered home.
I had no business throwing that ball, said Schilling. I was trying to make a great play. Schilling couldnt stop the bleeding as Ben Broussard stroked a double to right, scoring Ibanez, who had advanced to second on Schillings error. It soon was 5-0 as Kenji Johjimas single to left plated Broussard.
Those are the first two pitches I hung to that point in the game, Schilling said.
But nothing was hanging more than the heads in the Sox locker room after this one.