On a night where the Rays were the second team to use a reliever to open a game, it was a lack of hits and some poor luck that lead to an undeservedly rough night in the box score for Austin Pruitt.
Every year this trip to Seattle is a nightmare. Last year it was 3 brutal blowouts where the Rays weren’t even trying. This year, it starts with what was maybe even more frustrating than last years blowouts.
The Opener and the Headliner
Sergio Romo opened the game, pitched a nice, clean 1st inning, and got another out in the 2nd. Four batters faced and four groundouts. On his 5th batter, Mitch Haniger worked a tough at bat, and got a close ball 4 call on the corner. Romo would hand it off, and Austin Pruitt (aka the Headliner for tonight) took over.
Pruitt deserved better. He gave up a slew of weak contact, and with the incredible and improbable Mariners season you can expect that they will somehow find holes. And holes they did find.
In the 3rd, after two quick, weak groundouts, Pruitt gave up another weak groundout that was too weak to get the speedy Jean Segura. A bloop against the shift for Kyle Seager and an out of the zone swing by Cruz which directed a single the other way to RF lead to the games first run. That’s Pruitt giving up bad contact and getting bad results.
There was some decent shots in there though. In the bottom of the 4th, rich man’s Taylor Motter, Ben Gamel sent a sharp line drive the other way. Mallex Smith had what looks like a slightly late jump on it but tried for the dive and missed by a few inches leading to a Gamel 3B. After a weak single to center to drive in Gamel, another in-between liner (this time towards RF) lead to another Mallex dive and another near miss.
Pruitt pitched well overall. He worked quick, and kept the Mariners off balance, swinging at the pitches he wanted.
The Rays offense came to the plate ready to take swings against Mike Leake. Makes sense, as Leake is not a very imposing pitcher, and his stuff will not frequently be featured on the Pitching Ninja’s twitter account. But Leake has been running quite good as of late, and has the type of tricky, deceptively hittable stuff that can lead to good starts.
All that said: it doesn’t make it any easier to see the Rays look absolutely helpless against Mike Leake. A few well struck balls finding gloves, lots of whiffs, weak contact at the worst times, and incredibly quick innings were the story for the Rays bats.
The offense the Rays did have was loud and fun: back to back HRs for Gomez and Field
We did another one, we did another one. pic.twitter.com/of2JGbZUEU— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) June 2, 2018
Of course, it’s never a good sign when you can fit pretty much the whole offensive production into a single tweet.
Return of the Horse
Old pal Alex Colome pitched the 8th for the Ms. He seemed pretty wild nearly drilling Carlos Gomez, and actually hitting Johnny Field. Colome tried to be the sleeper agent, but alas a very well struck grounder from Cron was swallowed up by Seager at 3rd at ended the brief threat.
Duffman, OH YEAH!
Edwin Diaz has been unreal filthy. Just stupid good so far in 2018. The Rays were baffled by Mike Leake.
That’s not an equation for a good inning for Tampa Bay, but baseball doesn’t make sense. Joey Wendle worked a good walk to start the inning, stole 2nd, and advanced to 3rd on a wild pitch. Matt Duffy delivered another solid Duffy style base hit to drive home Wendle and tie the game.
Daniel Robertson executed a picture perfect hit and run, and suddenly ex-Mariner Brad Miller had a chance to steal the lead. It didn’t work.
The Rays and Mariners went to extras with a long night seemingly in store. There were some early chances: Nelson Cruz lasering a double just barely inside the park, DRob working a walk and Miller working the count into his favor 3-1. Both were quickly erased. The latter, by a horrible baserunning blunder by Daniel Robertson, getting picked off badly at 1st base by a snap throw from Zunino.
The Rays would struggle to mount any real threat, as the did most of the night. Mariners continued to offer almost no good swings, as they did most of the night.
Mallex Smith, Brad Miller, and Wilson Ramos in particular had multiple opportunities all night and all struggled mightily. At the end of the night it was just too many cold bats and tough breaks to overcome.
In the 13th, finally, mercifully, this game ended on a actually great swing and even better contact: Mitch Haniger delivered a right center field walkoff homer.
Rays playing the Mariners in Seattle continues to be frustrating, painful baseball.
And we have two more games of it!
Odds and Ends
- Rays Twitter has enjoyed the triumphant return for Mallex Smith to Seattle after his brief but clearly iconic time in Seattle:
What a moment here at Safeco Field. pic.twitter.com/4mjBhtpfzJ— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) June 2, 2018
- The Mariners have a tremendous fielding ball girl, and she was busy all night, and all over the foul territory: