The Rays fell to the Mariners 7-4 on Saturday afternoon at Tropicana Field after an emotional tribute to Don Zimmer that delayed the start of the game for 25 minutes. Alex Cobb was hit hard while Mariners counterpart Roenis Elias was sharp and efficient most of the game, pitching eight innings.
First a video tribute was shown honoring Zimmer, containing tribuets from David Price, Joe Maddon, Evan Longoria, Joe Girardi, James Shields and Derek Jeter. Dwayne Staats conducted the pregame ceremony at The Trop honoring Don Zimmer. At one point, he asked that everyone in attendance wearing a tie remove it per Zimmer's wishes. The broadcast then showed an emotional Torre removing his tie.
Once the game started, the Mariners wasted no time putting runners on. Cobb was forced to pitch out of a jam in the first after inning after allowing a leadoff double to Endy Chavez. Cobb came back to strike out James Jones before hitting Robinson Cano with a pitch to put runners on second and third. Kyle Seager flew out and Mike Zunino grounded out on a nice play by Logan Forsythe, who was playing second base.
Elias retired the Rays in the bottom of the first on only six pitches, as the Rays came out aggressively swinging on first pitches to begin the game.
The Mariners got on the board first in the top of second, scoring one run on a homerun by right fielder Cole Gillespie.
The Rays struck back in the bottom of the second, using both the long ball and small ball. With one out, James Loney hit a home run to right on the first pitch he saw. Yunel Escobar followed the home run with a walk and moved to third on a Logan Forsythe single to left-center. Ali Solis laid down a sacrifice bunt that scored Escobar. Elias attempted to throw Escobar out at home, but left Zunino enough time to throw Solis out at first, meaning that the play was scored 1-2-3 for the out. With Forsythe on second and two outs, Kevin Kiermaier scorched a ball right to first-baseman Willie Blooomquist, ending the Rays' inning with the Rays up 2-1.
Cobb allowed two more baserunnners in the third but managed to keep the Mariners off the scoreboard. Leadoff man Chavez singled to center and Jones moved him to second with an infield single. With the heart of the lineup due, Cobb set down Cano, Seager, and Zunino in order to end the inning.
Cobb again ran into trouble in the top of the fourth, allowing a leadoff single to center to Dustin Ackley. It appeared as if the Rays would get out of the inning with no damage after Gillespie flew out to center. Shortstop Brad Miller hit what could have been a double play ball to end the inning when Cobb deflected the ball into right field allowing Miller to reach safely and Ackley to move to third. Continuing the trend of hitting singles to center, Bloomquist singled to center, scoring Ackley and moving Miller to third. Miller scored on a sacrifice fly by Chavez, before Cobb ended the inning by inducing a groundout from Jones.
Yunel Escobar hit a two out double and moved to third on a wild pitch but was stranded when Forsythe struck out.
Cobb ran into even more trouble in the top of the fifth inning. Cano leadoff with a single to center, Seager followed with a walk, and Zunino with another single to left to load the bases. Ackley drove in all of the baserunners with a double to right center. After inducing a groundball out from Gillespie, Cesar Ramos came on in relief of Cobb. Ramos struck out slumping Brad Miller but allowed a double to Bloomquist, scoring the inherited baserunner. Chavez grounded out to end the inning.
Kirby Yates made his Major League debut for the Rays with two outs in the top of the seventh. Yates pitched 1.1 innings and struck two without allowing a baserunner.
From the end of the second inning until the seventh, Elias shut down the Rays offense, retiring 14 of 15 batters at one point.
After being shut down for middle part of the ballgame, the Rays got some offense in the bottom of the eighth. Desmond Jennings doubled with one out and moved to third on a Sean Rodriguez groundout. Evan Longoria continued a recent run of success by hitting a homerun, bringing the Rays to within three- 7-4 Mariners up.
Juan Carlos Oviedo pitched a perfect top of the ninth.
Because the Rays were within three, they got to attempt to hit off of former closer Fernando Rodney. Rodney needed only eight pitches to pitch a perfect ninth.
The Rays will look to take game three of the series against the Mariners tomorrow at 1:40 with Chris Archer taking the mound against Felix Hernandez.