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M's blow sweep, but take 2 of 3 from Rays

The Mariners arrived in St. Petersburg looking for revenge, and they nearly got it.

When the Tampa Bay Rays were here a couple weekends ago, they swept the M's in three tight contests; on their turf, the M's took the first two of another three-game set and a comeback in the third looked like it would give them all three. But the Seattle bullpen didn't cooperate, with Matt Magill—acquired from the Minnesota Twins in late July and owner of a season WHIP of nearly one-and-a-half—given the ball in the ninth inning. Magill wasted no time blowing his save opportunity, serving up a game-tying home run to the Rays' Kevin Kiermaier, then allowed two more hits and an intentional walk before wild-pitching the winning run across the plate.

That spoiled an otherwise impressive series for Seattle in which the M's outscored the Rays by eight runs and Marco Gonzales finally got his elusive 13th win.

That came on Monday night, in what was actually not one of Marco's best performances. He wasn't bad, Marco sets a fairly high bar as the M's go, and he was staked to a big lead when the M's jumped out with three runs in the first inning and four more in the second. With Tom Murphy's second homer of the night in the fifth inning, the Mariners had nine runs to the Rays' one, which came on a solo homer by Tommy Pham. In the bottom of the fifth, though, Marco faltered some, issuing a two-out walk to Pham followed by a longball from Austin Meadows. Another walk followed, to Travis d'Arnaud, then a hit batter before Jesús Aguilar fouled out to end the frame. That put Gonzales at 94 pitches and, predictably, manager Scott Servais decided that was enough. Servais sent in Erik Swanson for the sixth—not a terrible move, given the score—and he got through it well enough with a lineout, a deep fly ball, and a strikeout. Servias played with matches by leaving Swanson in for another frame, though, but got away with it as the Rays failed to capitalize on two walks and a wild pitch. Taylor Gilbeau and Cory Gearrin finished up, allowing just one hit and no walks between them, and the M's came away with a 9-3 victory.

Saturday was tougher; The Rays were up 4-2 after four innings and the M's needed to rally. They tied it up in the fifth with help from an error and a run-scoring wild pitch, though the threat ended with J.P. Crawford getting thrown out at home trying to score all the way from first on an Austin Nola double. The M's would score three more, though, thanks to Tom Murphy and Kyle Seager both continuing to swing hot bats—for the month of August, Murphy is batting .433/.469/1.133 with 6 homers and 10 RBI; Seager's August line is .323/.400/.758 with 8 HRs and 18 batted in—and the M's came away 7-4 victors.

The comeback-then-collapse on Sunday afternoon was notable for a couple of things (other than the walk-off loss), namely the end to Seager's hitting streak and the Major League debut of outfielder Jake Fraley. Fraley was obtained by the M's with Mallex Smith from the Rays last fall for Mike Zunino, Guillermo Heredia, and minor-leaguer Michael Plassmeyer and spent the bulk of this season at Double-A Arkansas, where he raked to the tune of .313/.386/.539. He was promoted to Tacoma, where after a brief transition period he took off again and ended up with a .276/.333/.553 line in Triple-A. A quality defender with good speed and emerging power, Fraley is thought by some to be a front-line starter for the Future M's and by others to be more of a fourth-outfielder type; he should get a chance to make his case for the former with steady play throughout the remainder of this season. He was 0-for-3 in his debut, though scored a run after being hit by a pitch.

The Mariners return home for a rematch with the Toronto Blue Jays next, with Justus Sheffield scheduled to be promoted for his first big-league start and Felix Hernández slated to return from the injured list. Yusei Kikuchi will be skipped this time around to give him a bit of a breather in line with the preseason plan to limit his innings.

 

Mariners vs. Rays, by the numbers

  • Total runs scored: 36 (SEA 22, TB 14)
  • Home runs hit: 10 (SEA 6, TB 4)
  • Bases stolen/attempts: 7/7 (SEA 3 - Gordon, Lopes 2; TB 4)
  • Errors committed: 4 (SEA 1 - Broxton, TB 3)
  • Quality starts: 0
  • Pitching changes: 23 (SEA 11, TB 12)
  • Starters ERA (includes “openers”): 7.20 (SEA 5.14, TB 12.38)
  • Bullpen ERA (includes “headliners”): 4.26 (SEA 4.74, TB 3.79)
  • Runners left on base: 38 (SEA 18, TB 20)

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