This game was unfortunate.
Perhaps this is the time to remember “you can’t win them all,” or it’s just “one game of 162,” but that doesn’t fit for the moment. After 85 games of holding at least a share of the best record in baseball, the Tampa Bay Rays find themselves with the second-best record after falling 8-3 to the Seattle Mariners. Coming into the game, the Rays had a .750 record against teams below .500, but that’s why they play the game.
As for how it all went down, there were three distinct acts to this tragedy.
Act I: Kirby Holds Rays Hitless Through Five
The game began with an electrifying performance from the Mariners’ starting pitcher, George Kirby. He was in control from the beginning, relentlessly stifling the Rays’ batters. He carved through the Tampa Bay lineup like a hot knife through butter, pitching a no-hitter through the first two rounds of the order, only allowing walks to Wander Franco and Josh Lowe in the first and fifth innings, respectively. Tampa Bay hitters that scored 15 unanswered runs last night were left scratching their heads as they struggled to find a response to Kirby’s dominance on the mound.
George Kirby's 6th and 7th Ks ⛽️⛽️ pic.twitter.com/OKA0ZlsBzt— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) July 2, 2023
The Mariners hitters also asserted their dominance early. With two outs in the second inning Jarred Kelenic advanced to third on a double off Rays starter Tyler Glasnow and third on a wild pitch. A Mike Ford RBI single scored Kelenic to give Seattle an early lead. This momentum was carried forward to the third inning when J.P. Crawford blasted a leadoff homer, marking his 7th home run of the season and putting the Mariners ahead 2-0.
Tyler Glasnow has 8 Ks through 4, but the Mariners have a 2-0 lead after J.P. Crawford burns him for a homer! pic.twitter.com/x8uTu92nZL— Just Baseball (@JustBB_Media) July 2, 2023
Act II: Raley Starts a Potential Comeback
The sixth inning brought a glimmer of hope for the Rays as the order came around for a third time. Luke Raley delivered a two-run homer, his 14th of the season. His blast to right field scored Yandy Diaz and tied the game at 2-2. For a moment, it seemed as if the tide might be turning, with the Rays showing signs of life and promising another potential comeback.
We were being no-hit.— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) July 2, 2023
We have now acquired some hits. pic.twitter.com/7nUKenDsyN
Act III: Mariners’ Dominance and Beeks’ Ineffectiveness
Despite the brief surge from the Rays, the Mariners regained control in the bottom of the sixth as Tyler Glasnow struggled with two outs and a runner on second. He hit Eugenio Suarez with a pitch before Jarred Kelenic delivered a sharp RBI single that helped the Mariners regain the lead 3-2. Then he walked Ford to load the bases and end his outing with 5.2 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, and 11 K on 110 pitches, with 33 of those pitches coming in the sixth inning.
The Rays decided to bring in Jalen Beeks, hoping for a shutdown inning to limit the damage. It worked to get the final out in the sixth before that hope quickly turned into a nightmare as Beeks gave up three earned runs in his 1.1 innings of work. A walk and back-to-back singles were followed by a crucial ground-rule double from Teoscar Hernandez, which drove in two runs and extended the Mariners’ lead to 5-2. Eugenio Suarez then increased the gap with a sacrifice fly right against the center field wall that put the Mariners up 6-2.
In the eighth, the Mariners continued to press their advantage with a series of timely hits. The Rays brought in Robert Stephenson to replace the beleaguered Beeks, but the Mariners could not be contained, padding their lead to 8-3.
The ninth inning offered little more than a series of strikeouts from Randy Arozarena, Harold Ramirez, and Josh Lowe, confirming an 8-3 victory for the Mariners and a bitter defeat for the Tampa Bay Rays.
Tomorrow these teams play again in the rubber match of this series. Taj Bradley will take the mound for the Rays, and Luis Castillo will start for the Mariners. A series win would be a great way for this team to close this west coast road trip before a much-needed off day and homestand.