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Rays 3, Mariners 4: Another rally falls short

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Font is bold, Arroyo goes yard, but defense and luck dragons betray the Rays

MLB: Seattle Mariners at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Rays took another shot at snapping their 69 game losing streak. They failed, mostly thanks to two blown double play chances, and the fact that every Seattle ground ball that wasn’t a double play chance found a hole. But there will still fun parts! For instance, Christian Arroyo and C.J. Cron hit dongs. Also, I had a tasty diet root beer.

Wilmer Font was bold as the opener in what was really more of a true “bullpen day.” Flashing an electric fastball and some interesting-if-inconsistent bendy stuff, he plowed through the first two innings without surrendering a baserunner, striking out Dee Gordon and Mitch Haniger in the first, and Kyle Seager and Mike Zunino in the second.

He was so sharp, you felt pretty good Cash sent him back out for the third. Unfortunately, things went a little comic sans on him in a hurry.

After falling behind Ben Gamel 2-0, Font battled back to a full count, only to eventually lose him on a seven pitch walk. Guillermo Heredia followed by tapping one up the third base line, which Matt Duffy could only pray would roll foul at some point, and then pick up once it did no such thing.

With runners on first and second, DRB heartthrob Dan Vogelbach took a first pitch fastball from Font and hooked it into right for a single, scoring Gamel and sending Heredia to third. 1-0 Mariners.

After a mound visit, Font stayed in the game to strike out Gordon again before finally giving way to Matt Andriese. It was a nice outing despite the line.

Andriese came in, and immediately dialed up the double play ball to get out of the inning. Unfortunately, Arroyo mishandled it at second, and they were only able to get the force play on Vogelbach. Heredia crossed the plate, giving the Mariners a 2-0 lead. Andriese then struck out Haniger to end the threat.

For the Rays against Marco Gonzales, the chances were few and far between. Though the no hitter threat ended with DRob leading off the top of the first, the Rays only real threat came in the third.

With two outs, Mallex Smith lined a hanging 2-2 curve into center for a single. Daniel Robertson followed by hitting a chopper to the good Seager brother. Kyle, who has been killing the Rays all game — and all series — with his defense, couldn’t come up with this one. The ball bounded into left for a two-base error. C.J. Cron followed by (apparently) getting hit on back pant leg by the breeze of a 1-2 cutter to load the bases for Matt Duffy.

After falling behind 1-2, Duffy worked the count full. He then swung late at a borderline pitch that he would really have been better off taking and praying. End of threat.

The Mariners scored another run in the fourth when the Rays against botched a double play chance that would have gotten them out of the inning. With the bases loaded, Heredia hit a grounder directly to DRob at short. Robertson bobbled the ball on the exchange, and the Rays only managed the force at second.

Seattle scored again in the fifth, when Haniger singled home Jean Segura, who had doubled eariler. They had a chance to add more when Zunino grounded a double down the line. But with Seager rounding third and in clear position to score, the ball rolled under some gloves in the bullpen area for an ground-rule double. Seager was returned to third, and new pitcher Vidal Nuno got Gamel to fly to left to end the inning.

In the Rays half of the fifth, Arroyo hit that homer I mentioned earlier. 4-1 not-Rays.

In the eighth, Mallex Smith did what you aren’t supposed to do and dove into first base on a grounder to first. The flip to Gonzales covering was late (barely) and the Mariners made the call to end the night for Gonzales. Alex Colome took over.

And do you know what? Facing Colome with the game on the line is a whole lot more fun that watching him try to protect a lead for you. Because after a Robertson fly out, C.J. Cron homered to left to cut the lead to 4-3.

The Mariners were done messing around, and Edwin Diaz got the call for the four out save chance. But strangely, the Rays didn’t go quietly. Singles by Duffy and Ramos followed, putting runners at the corners. The Rays were unable to cash in, as Gomez popped out to end the inning.

The Rays had one more shot in the ninth when, with two outs, Joey Wendle pinch hit for Christian Arroyo. A fastball off the plate away was called strike one to put Wendle in the hole. Diaz followed that by hitting the Rays’ pinch hitter in the front foot with a slider, again putting the tying run on base.

The thread didn’t last long. On the 0-1 pitch to Smith, Wendle broke for second. It was a good jump, but a better throw by Zunino. Segura put the tag on, just getting Wendle to end the game.

Frustration, thy name is Tampa Bay.

Notes:

  • Carlos Gomez used the SpongeBob Squarepants theme song as his walk up music
  • Jake Bauers still doesn’t have a hit, but he’s hitting some of them softer now so there’s hope
  • Bauers did make a couple fun plays in the field. In the seventh, a grounder by Segura ate him up and he bobbled it. Fortunately, he stayed with it, and Vidal Nuno did what pitchers are supposed to do on every ground ball to the right side regardless of how routine it looks. The 3-1 put out drew some chuckles from Jake.
  • The second fun play was in the ninth. With Segura on first and going first move, he broke early for second. So early, in fact, that it was going to be tough for Jake to relay Nuno’s pickoff throw to second in time to get Segura. Bauers made a nice play by moving toward the throw while it was still in the air, simultaneously creating a lane for his throw while also reducing the time needed. They nipped Segura at second to end the inning.