Josh Beckett could be facing the perfect opponent as he gets ready to return for the Boston Red Sox.
Beckett, who has already dominated the Seattle Mariners once this season, makes his first start since June 11 on Saturday night at Safeco Field.
Boston (41-36) has won three of four from Seattle (33-46) this year, splitting the first two games of this four-game set. The Mariners have totaled two runs while batting .153 in the season series. They've also been quite anemic while dropping four of their last six games overall, totaling five runs and getting shut out three times.
That's why Beckett (4-7, 4.14 ERA) figures to have a relatively easy time in his return from the disabled list. He gave up four hits over seven innings May 15 in a 5-0 home win over the Mariners to improve to 7-1 with a 2.30 ERA in nine starts against them since joining Boston in 2006.
The right-hander was placed on the DL on June 16 due to shoulder inflammation, but manager Bobby Valentine expects Beckett to pitch well Saturday.
"Well, if he's healthy, I expect a good performance," Valentine told the Red Sox's official website. "It seems like he's very healthy and has good spirits. Josh is a great pitcher. I expect him to go out there and give us a good outing."
The Mariners' John Jaso is 0 for 9 with four strikeouts against Beckett while the club's home run leader, Justin Smoak , is 0 for 8. Chone Figgins is a .308 hitter versus Beckett, but the outfielder has struggled all year with a .187 average - .133 at home.
Seattle went down meekly 5-0 on Saturday night, its 10th shutout loss of 2012. Boston's Aaron Cook needed only 81 pitches to pitch a two-hitter, his third career shutout and first complete game since June 26, 2010, with Colorado.
The Mariners are batting a major league-worst .197 at home, and .167 through the first five games of their current homestand."It's a step back today offensively and that's hard as hell to do the way we've been swinging the bats here at home," manager Eric Wedge said. "I'm tired of watching it."
The Red Sox didn't need much offense to prevail, but hit four homers as Jarrod Saltalamacchia , Daniel Nava , Will Middlebrooks and Cody Ross all went deep. That's one more homer than the total the Mariners have produced in their last 10 home games.
David Ortiz had a double in four at-bats, and remains stuck on 399 career homers for Boston, which has won 12 of 16.
Before Friday's game, Seattle placed center fielder Franklin Gutierrez on the seven-day concussion disabled list. Gutierrez was hit in the side of the face with an errant pick-off attempt in Thursday's 1-0 win and spent the night in the hospital.
Nicaraguan rookie Erasmo Ramirez (0-2, 4.18) will make his fourth career start for Seattle. His last one was his best, as he yielded one run and struck out 10 over eight innings of Monday's 1-0 home defeat to Oakland.
"He was outstanding," Wedge said. "I thought his focus was tremendous. He did a great job of keeping the ball down."
The Mariners recalled the 22-year-old right-hander from Triple-A Tacoma on June 13, one day after demoting Blake Beavan . Ramirez, who spent the first month of the season pitching out of the Seattle bullpen before being sent down, was the youngest player to make an opening day roster in 2012.
|Boston Red Sox|
|June 20, 2012||Clay Buchholz||15-Day DL||Gastro-intestinal illness|
|June 19, 2012||Dustin Pedroia||Day-to-Day||Left game - right thumb|
|June 18, 2012||Scott Podsednik||15-Day DL||Left groin injury|
|June 17, 2012||Ryan Sweeney||15-Day DL||Toe discomfort|
|June 17, 2012||Scott Podsednik||Day-to-Day||Left game - left groin discomfort|
|June 12, 2012||Josh Beckett||15-Day DL||Right shoulder inflammation|
|June 29, 2012||Franklin Gutierrez||Day-to-Day||Left Game-Head Injury|
|June 29, 2012||Franklin Gutierrez||7-Day DL||Concussion|
|June 27, 2012||Kevin Millwood||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained right groin|
|June 13, 2012||Stephen Pryor||15-Day DL||Strained left groin|
|June 12, 2012||Mike Carp||Day-to-Day||Right shoulder injury|
|June 11, 2012||Mike Carp||15-Day DL||Right shoulder inflammation|
SEATTLE (AP) -- Maligned for most of the season and much of his career in Seattle, Chone Figgins came through with an at-bat Saturday night that finally had everyone cheering.
Figgins didn't go deep, but his line drive was deep enough.
Figgins' sacrifice fly in the 11th inning allowed Dustin Ackley to beat Cody Ross ' throw to the plate and the Seattle Mariners beat the Boston Red Sox 3-2 on Saturday night.
With the Red Sox's infield playing in and expecting a possible squeeze bunt from Figgins, Seattle manager Eric Wedge let his little-used utility player hit. Figgins came through with a line drive off Boston closer Alfredo Aceves (0-5) that Ross caught cleanly in right field. He made a strong throw, but the ball bounced before getting to the plate and catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia could not pick it cleanly.
It was the seventh career game-ending RBI for Figgins and the first on a sacrifice fly.
"That's the one chance you get to try and hit a home run, so you don't want to back off your swing. You want to be aggressive," Figgins said.
Shawn Kelley (2-2) pitched the 11th for the victory. But the bigger performance was Seattle closer Tom Wilhelmsen working two scoreless innings, and collectively Seattle's bullpen that allowed just two runs in 8 1-3 innings of relief after starter Erasmo Ramirez left with pain in his right elbow.
Charlie Furbush , Oliver Perez , Wilhelmsen and Kelley all had scoreless stints of at least one inning.
John Jaso snapped a scoreless tie with a two-run double off Boston starter Josh Beckett in the sixth inning for Seattle. The Red Sox tied the game in the seventh thanks to an infield groundout from Ryan Kalish that scored Adrian Gonzalez from third and a passed ball by Olivo that rolled to the backstop and allowed Will Middlebrooks to score the tying run.
Olvio's mistake was forgotten when he dropped a two-strike single into right field that allowed Ackley to reach third base in the 11th. Ackley started the rally with a one-out single through the right side for his second hit and his first multi-hit game since June 19.
Boston pitched out initially to Figgins believing he could be dropping a bunt, but the second pitch from Aceves was lined deep enough for Ackley to tag and score. It was just the 10th RBI of the season for Figgins.
"It was one of those plays, kind of do-or-die on both sides," Saltalamacchia said of the play at the plate.
Boston had a chance in the 10th inning. Dustin Pedroia led off with a single after going hitless in his previous 15 at-bats. David Ortiz followed with sharp base-hit back up the middle and quickly the Red Sox were threatening. Wilhelmsen got ahead of Saltalamacchia 0-2 and finally struck him out on a 2-2 breaking ball. Gonzalez then hit a grounder that bounced off the backside of the mound and handcuffed Ackley and kept the Mariners from turning an inning-ending double play. But Wilhelmsen got a weak grounder from Middlebrooks and the go-ahead run was left at third base.
Wilhelmsen worked more than one inning for the eighth time this season, but the previous seven came before Wilhelmsen took over as Seattle's closer. Kelley struck out a pair during an easy 11th inning.
Wedge called a team meeting before Saturday's game after the Mariners' meek performance a night earlier when Boston right-hander Aaron Cook tossed a two-hitter and needed just 81 pitches for the complete game. Wedge's concern was specifically about the Mariners offense and for five innings against Beckett, his message wasn't being received.
Olivo got Seattle's first hit with two outs in the fifth, but it was the sixth when Seattle finally got its offense going. Ichiro Suzuki singled and followed by stealing second to get into scoring position. Casper Wells walked and Kyle Seager followed with a pop up down the left-field line that both left fielder Daniel Nava and shortstop Mike Aviles chased after. The pair miscommunicated making long runs and the ball fell just fair in between the pair.
Jaso then turned on a 1-0 pitch from Beckett and lined it off the right-field wall on the fly. It might have scored only one run had the ball not hit hard enough to bounce back toward home plate and past Ross, allowing Wells to score from second.
"Just overall, I loved our fight today," Wedge said. "Playing a good ballclub, tight game like that, our starter goes down early and when that happens you know everybody is on deck, everybody is going to have to really fight hard to help us win that ballgame."
Ramirez left in the third inning with an undisclosed injury after retiring the first eight batters. With two outs in the inning, Ramirez threw a first-pitch strike to Aviles. After throwing the pitch, Ramirez signaled for Olivo, who then signaled to the dugout for the trainer.
Wedge said Ramirez was taken for an MRI on his pitching elbow, but results wouldn't be available until Sunday.
"We used all but one guy down in our bullpen and kept them in tow and really that was the story of the ballgame," Wedge said.
Notes: Boston designated OF Darnell McDonald for assignment Saturday, clearing the needed roster spot for Beckett to return from the disabled list. McDonald played in 38 games this season. ... Seattle entered the night hitting .197 at home this season, the worst home batting average in baseball.