Rays Fall To Mariners In Series Opener

ST. PETERSBURG — After six games against the Yankees and Red Sox, it figured there would not be much of a crowd at the Trop on Monday night when the Rays opened a three-game series against Seattle.

Sure enough, the announced attendance was 5,855. The 855 portion was about all that remained for the final two innings of a sleepy 8-2 loss that followed an exhilarating weekend sweep of Boston.

The loss trimmed the Rays’ American League East lead to one game over the idle Red Sox.

“It was kind of dead in the building and we couldn’t create our own momentum,” said Kevin Kiermaier. “We were flat tonight.”

The Mariners batted around against Michael Wacha in the third when they scored the game’s first five runs. The first six batters reached safely with Kyle Seager and Ty France delivering run-scoring singles and Jake Fraley driving in a pair with a single. Seattle also scored on a throwing error by Joey Wendle.

“Seattle’s hitters were on everything,” said Rays manager Kevin Cash. “They made nice adjustments throughout the at-bats.”

Wacha, who threw 42 pitches in that third inning, allowed a season-high six runs as Mariners touched him for one in the fourth. The right-hander allowed eight hits and three walks in four innings of work.

“That was a tough inning,” Wacha said of the third. “It was frustrating, falling behind in counts. I felt like I did not get a ahead very much and that is not a nice recipe for a pitcher.”

It was quite the contrast from last Wednesday night when Wacha allowed only one unearned run in five innings of a no-decision against the Yankees.

The Rays were down 6-0 before Randy Arozarena’s 15th homer put his team on the board in the fourth. They made it 6-2 in the fifth when Kiermaier led off with a triple and scored on a groundout by Brandon Lowe.

That would be as close as the Rays would get against a Seattle team that entered the night 3.5 games behind Oakland for the American League’s second wild card spot.

Chris Flexen (10-5) picked up the win for Seattle. He threw 113 pitches in 6 2/3 innings and allowed both Tampa Bay runs.

“We just kind of had an off night,” said Cash, whose team is 0-5 against the Mariners this season. “Seattle has had our number and we need to make adjustments going forward.”

The Rays will look to make that adjustment Tuesday night (7:10) when Luis Patino (2-2, 4.26) is opposed by Yusei Kikuchi.

Tom Layberger has been a sports writer and editor since 1990. Among the companies he has worked for are Beckett Publishing, The Topps Company and Comcast. In addition to being a contributing writer for sportstalkflorida.com, Tom also writes for forbes.com and Tampa Bay Business & Wealth Magazine. A native of the Philadelphia suburbs and a University of South Florida grad, Tom is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the National Football Foundation. He resides in Tampa.