Boston's 10-game West coast trip didn't get off to a good start. After an 11-4 loss to Seattle on Monday night, the Red Sox have lost three in a row for the first time since May 11-14.
The Sox turn to rookie starter Allen Webster hoping to right the ship on Tuesday night at Safeco Field. All-Star Hisashi Iwakuma will toe the rubber for the Mariners as they look to guarantee at least a split of the four-game set.
Webster's 7.88 ERA is far from impressive, but as he gains more experience, the rookie is showing signs of improvement. His results have gotten progressively better in his last four games, giving up eight runs, then five, four and two. Webster even earned his first Major League win in his last start against the Padres, going six innings while allowing only two runs on five hits.
Webster credits his growing familiarity with the Major League routine as the reason for his improvement
"I would definitely say I'm getting more comfortable," Webster said. "I'm starting to get a good routine up here and watching the other stars, watching to see how they do stuff. I'm kind of picking whatever works for them and finding what works for me."
To be successful against the Mariners, Webster will likely have to avoid the long ball. Seattle ranks 14th in the American League in runs scored, but fourth in home runs. Outfielder Raul Ibanez has been particularly potent as a power hitter of late. The 41-year-old blasted his 22nd homer in the fifth inning on Monday for his eighth jack in 13 games. But if Webster's improvement will continue against Ibanez and the rest of the Seattle lineup, Red Sox manager John Farrell said it will be Webster's own doing and not a reflection of his opponent.
"I don't think it's reliant on where or who he's pitching against, it's more a matter of he just getting his feet on the ground and being more comfortable at the big league level," Farrell said. "It's a young guy with a very good pitch mix and power stuff. Getting ahead in the count is probably the biggest reason the last couple starts have been as good as they have been."
Despite Farrell's insistence, Webster's counterpart is a tough adversary. No pitcher in the AL has a better ERA than Iwakuma, who is 7-4 with a 2.60 ERA. The right-hander has been even more impressive at Safeco Field, where he's 3-1 with a 1.84 ERA in nine starts.
Iwakuma's recent outings have put a bit of a damper on his hot start, however. He's allowed four runs in each of his last four outings while going 0-3 with a 5.76 ERA in that span. In his last start, Iwakuma cruised through six innings against the Rangers to give his team a 3-1 lead, but didn't record an out in the seventh and gave up three runs.
"He was good," manager Eric Wedge said. "He just got up there that last inning. He was motoring right along with 70-some pitches going into that seventh inning. He gave up a home run and then a hit and walk. It looked like he'd lost it quick there and we had to go to the bullpen."
Red Sox: Miller's season likely over
The Red Sox will get a second opinion, but in all likelihood Andrew Miller's season is over.
Miller left Saturday's game against the Angels with a left foot injury and though preliminary X-rays did not show a break, he will require surgery.
With a 2.69 ERA this season, Miller was one of Boston's most reliable weapons out of the bullpen. The injury leaves an already ailing Red Sox bullpen down another man. Closer Joel Hanrahan was lost for the season in May and reliever Franklin Morales is on the DL.
Craig Breslow is now the only left-hander in the Red Sox bullpen.
Mariners: Bonderman designated for assignment
The Mariners designated Jeremy Bonderman for assignment on Monday, ending his comeback stint with Seattle after not appearing in the Major Leagues since 2010.
To fill his roster spot, the Mariners promoted lefty reliever Lucas Luetge from Triple-A Tacoma, but the club will need to tab a starter to take Bonderman's spot in the rotation. Wedge said that announcement won't come until later in the week.
Bonderman, 30, struggled in his last two starts, compiling an 0-2 record with a 10.80 ERA. Since returning to the Majors on June 2, he was 1-3 with a 4.93 ERA in seven starts.
• Boston has held at least a share of first place in the AL East for 80 days, including 43 straight since reclaiming the top spot on May 27.
• Ibanez extended his hitting streak to 13 games with a 2-for-5 performance on Monday. He's batting .385 in July.
Michael Periatt is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.