The Tampa Bay Rays ended up routing the Seattle Mariners, 7-1, at Tropicana Field. But the game was tied in the fifth when Tampa Bay’s Sean Rodriguez changed everything by lofting a short fly just beyond second base.
Shortstop Brad Miller and second baseman Nick Franklin both went after the ball, both called for the ball, and then both watched the ball drop between them.
With the door opened, the Rays barged through for a four-run inning.
“A communication letdown there,” acting manager Robby Thompson said. “I think (Franklin) called for it first, and maybe Brad called for it. But the ball’s got to be caught. For me, Nick’s got to go after that ball – it’s his ball – and he’s got to call him off and make the play. And if Brad does call it, he’s got to be sure that he catches it. But that ball’s got to be caught.”
Both players agreed.
Miller’s assessment: “He broke on it pretty good and when I looked he was camped under it and I was ‘Dang, why did I call it?’ and then we both kind of backed off.”
Franklin’s view: “The ball was right at me, and I just called it. But like I said, it was miscommunication, and it happens.”
With the first two runners on, Wil Myers added a double, and Evan Longoria added a home run. Starting pitcher Joe Saunders didn’t survive the inning.
“I think he threw 17 pitches to a couple of guys in that inning, and then the double followed by the home run,” Thompson said. “Would it be different if that ball was caught? There’s a chance. It kind of snowballed after that.”
Meanwhile, the Mariners couldn’t add anything after Raul Ibanez staked them to a 1-0 lead in the second with a home run to well into the right-field seats.
“I just tired to get the barrel on it,” he said. “It was high enough where I was just hoping it would get out at that point. It was out over the plate and kind of up a little.”
It was Ibanez’s team-leading 25th home run of the season. Ibanez, 41, became the first player 40 or older to hit 25 or more home runs in a season since Barry Bonds in 2007. He became the first Mariner to hit 25 home runs in a season since 2009, when Russell Branyan (31) and Jose Lopez (25) did it. Ibanez’s 25 homers are the fourth-most in Major League history for a player 41 or older and four short of Ted Williams’ record.
Seattle (55-65) fell 10 games under .500 and travels to Texas where the Mariners will begin a three-game series Friday.
Rays win 7-1 and take the series 2-1.
Seattle falls to 55-65 and heads off for a three-game series at Texas starting Friday.
Main bright spot for Mariners was second-inning home run by Raul Ibanez. Some club-provided notes on that:
· Raul Ibañez hit his team-leading 25th home run of the season…first Mariners player with 25+ home runs since 2009 (Russell Branyan-31 & Jose Lopez-25).
o Is the third season in Raul’s 18-season MLB career with 25+ home runs (has 8 seasons with 20+ HR)…25 HR trail only 24 in 2009 (with PHI) and 33 in 2006 (with SEA).
o His 25 home runs are 4th-most in MLB history in an age 41 season or older (1. Ted Williams, 29 in 1960; 2. Barry Bonds, 28 in 2007, 3. Barry Bonds, 26 in 2006).
o The home run was Raul’s first since a 2-HR game July 12 vs. the Angels (first HR since the All-Star Break)…snapped a string of 90 PA without a HR.
Eighth:Tampa Bay adds another and now leads, 7-1.
Seventh:Mariners go quietly. Rays add one and now lead 6-1.
Sixth: Alex Torres pitching for Rays. Nice return for Alex Cobb in his first start since concussion from being hit by batted ball June 15.
Fifth: Still, 1-1. Nick Franklin strikes out with bases loaded to end inning. Tampa Bay starter Alex Cobb is on a pitch count of around 90, and he’s around that right now. But wheels come off for Mariners in the bottom half, with a couple of flukey hits — once falling between Franklin, Miller and Ackley in short center. Then a double by Myers. Then a home run by Longoria. Suddenly, it’s 5-1 Rays. One out and one hard single later, Saunders’ night is over. Brandon Maurer comes in. Saunders went 4.1, allowing five earned runs on seven hits with three walks.
Third inning: Rays even it, 1-1, on a small-ball rally: walk, single and then Wil Myers single to tie it.
Second inning:Raul Ibanez sends one into the right-field seats to give Seattle a 1-0 lead. His first home run since July 12, ending a run of 90 plate appearances without one. Rays don’t answer.
Play ball:We’re under way… and with a quick, scoreless, hitless first inning. 0-0.
Pregame: Rays manager Joe Maddon had a 20-foot python delivered into the home clubhouse today. Why, you ask? Here’s why:
“2013 happens to be the Year of the Snake on the Chinese calendar,” he said. “I kind of like that through. We needed a little bit of motivation within the clubhouse, and furthermore you find out that it’s representative of risk-taking and creative thinking – the 2013 year of the snake. … I thought it fit in perfectly with what we’re trying to do around here. Again, I thought coming off the (0-5) West Coast trip the guys were a little bit uptight about things. We needed to loosen things up, and what better way to do that than with a 20-foot python.”
Lineups: Here’s the Mariners’ lineup for the rubber match of their three-game series at Tampa Bay.
The basics: first pitch 4:10 p.m., game on Root.
I’ll be back with some clubhouse notes as I get them.