The Tampa Bay Rays scored three runs in the ninth inning en route to a 5-3 win over the Mariners, their first win in Seattle since 2015. At 67-50 (17-games over .500), Tampa Bay remains a half-game ahead of Oakland for the final playoff spot in the American League.
They enter play with a 67.7% chance of a playoff berth, per FanGraphs. Baseball Prospectus has them with an 81.0% chance.
The Rays took the initial lead in the second inning against left-hander Marco Gonzales. Matt Duffy started the rally with a one-out double to left-center and moved up to third on a base hit to left by Kevin Kiermaier. Mike Brosseau followed with a chopper off the plate which Gonzales fielded and, for whatever reason, threw to second to get Kiermaier as Duffy crossed the plate. Had he thrown to first, he would have found himself in a “runners at second and third” situation with two outs and a tie score. His indecision, however, allowed a run to cross the plate.
They were able to tack on another run on a groundout in the following inning. Tommy Pham and Austin Meadows hit back-to-back singles to start the inning, putting runners at the corners. Pham scored on a slow bouncer to third by Jesus Aguilar.
Gonzales settled down though and gave up just three singles over his final four innings of work, allowing only one runner to get as far as second base over that stretch. Gonzales worked 6-1/3 impressive innings, allowing seven hits, and two walks while fanning nine. He was pulled from the game after getting an out on Willy Adames’ comebacker that struck him on the leg.
Seattle got on the board in the third inning against an inefficient and erratic Jalen Beeks. Mallex Smith walked with one out then moved up to second on a grounder to first. Domingo Santana singled to left, scoring Smith to cut the Rays lead in half.
An inning later, catcher Tom Murphy reached on an error by second baseman Mike Brosseau. Kyle Seager followed with a bloop single to center, putting two on with none out. After Austin Nola just missed a three-run homer to deep left, and Tim Lopes flew out to right for the second out, 31-year-old rookie Ryan Court looped a single to right, scoring Murphy and tying the game at two apiece. Colin Poche struck out Smith to keep the game even.
Beeks was charged with two runs (one earned) over 3-2/3 innings, allowing four hits and two walks while striking out four. He was rather ineffective in a start that Rays skipper Kevin Cash had hoped would take him into the fifth inning, throwing 50 of 85 pitches for strikes (59% strike rate) and getting into five three-ball counts.
I didn’t do a very good job of getting ahead of guys, in general. I can hang my hat that I battled, but just going forward, I’ve just got to get ahead of guys with all three pitches a little better and get in a little better rhythm. … I’ve just got to do a better job of being more aggressive and getting in the zone. I mean, that’s the goal from here on out.— Jalen Beeks
The Mariners, who hadn’t been retired in order in the first five innings, had a great chance to take the lead in the fifth. Crawford hit a looper just beyond the reach of shortstop Willy Adames into shallow left field. Santana then walked on four pitches, bringing Seattle’s lone All-Star, Daniel Vogelbach, to the plate. Though Vogelbach struck out against Poche, as did Murphy and Seager, ending the inning.
That began a stretch where Rays’ relievers retired nine consecutive batters, fanning seven of them. Chaz Roe, who has a 0.90 ERA since the All-Star Break, and Nick Anderson paired up to throw perfect consecutive innings, combining for four strikeouts along the way.
Knotted up at two since the third inning, Tampa Bay moved back in front for good in the ninth against closer Anthony Bass. Pinch-hitter Eric Sogard led off the frame with a single to right, while Kevin Kiermaier walked on a 3-2 pitch, putting two on base. Brosseau sacrificed the runners into scoring position, and Willy Adames was walked intentionally, loading the bases for Ji-Man Choi.
Choi fell behind 1-2 before he drew a walk to give the Rays a one-run lead. Pham then hit a slow roller to short which Crawford bobbled, as Kiermaier scored to put Tampa Bay up by a pair. Finally, Meadows also grounded slowly to short as Adames crossed the plate for a 5-2 lead.
That put Oliver Drake on the right side of the ledger after he worked around a pair of hits in a scoreless eighth. The Drake allowed a single to left-center to Vogelbach on a 1-2 pitch to start the inning, yet he received some help from his battery mate after Keon Broxton pinch-ran for Vogelbach and Omar Narvaez pinch-hit for Murphy. The speedy Broxton was caught stealing at second for the first out before Narvaez hit a single to left on a 2-2 pitch. Drake struck out the next two batters, preserving the lead.
De facto closer Emilio Pagan got the first out in the ninth inning before he gave up a solo homer to Court, his first in the big leagues, making it 5-3. But Pagan bounced back and got Smith to strikeout for the second out, and Crawford to pop out to end the game.
The New What Next
Charlie Morton (12-4, 2.77 ERA) will take the mound for Tampa Bay, pitching opposite of Tommy Milone (1-6, 4.33 ERA).
Charlie Morton allowed two runs on seven hits and no walks while striking out nine over seven innings against the Blue Jays on Monday. Morton delivered another quality performance, although he was tagged with the hard-luck loss. It was an encouraging start because the right-hander has a 4.85 ERA and a 4.33 K/BB in his last four starts. He maintains a 2.77 ERA with 174 strikeouts on the season.
Tommy Milone allowed two runs on four hits and a walk while striking out seven over five innings against the Astros on Sunday. Working as the primary pitcher behind Sam Tuivailala, Milone gathered 14 swinging strikes but was out-dueled by Justin Verlander and was ultimately staked to the loss. Milone struck out the first five Astros he faced and retired the first six batters overall. The southpaw has a 4.33 ERA and 68 strikeouts through 70-2/3 innings this season. Milone relies primarily on an 87 mph four-seam fastball and an 80 mph changeup that boasts natural sinking action, while also mixing in a 78 mph slider with two-plane movement. Milone is 2-3 with a 6.07 ERA in six career outings (five starts) against the Rays. Key Matchups: Avisail Garcia (7-18, 2 2B, RBI, BB), Kevin Kiermaier (2-2), Mike Zunino (4-8, 2 HR, 3 RBI, BB)
You can read about the series in our preview, while the starting lineup and Noteworthiness are below.
Rays 8/10/19 Starting Lineup
- Kiermaier CF
- d’Arnaud 1B
- Meadows LF
- Garcia RF
- Duffy 3B
- Aguilar DH
- Brosseau 2B
- Zunino C
- Adames SS
— Jose Alvarado (right oblique strain) was scheduled to throw Friday for Triple-A Durham, although Tampa Bay’s immediate pitching needs could prompt the Rays to recall him if he’s ready.
— Brandon Lowe reportedly had his best day of running so far, said Rays’ Major League medical coordinator Paul Harker. The infielder still needs to progress with his burst running before he can begin a Minor League rehab assignment. Per Daniel Kramer (MLB.com), the chances of Lowe being activated during the Rays’ next homestand, which begins next Friday, are probably optimistic.
— Joey Wendle took swings back in Tampa Bay on Friday. With the nature of his wrist injury, the Rays are exercising caution on his follow-through, and because of it, he is still probably a few weeks away.