Rays Dip Back Below .500, Fall To Mariners

Offense sputters for Rays in loss to Mariners

Marco Gonzalez went 6.2 innings with just one run allowed, Ryon Healey homered, and the Seattle Mariners took a 3-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday night to send the Rays back below .500.

Seattle took the lead in the third inning on a single by Nelson Cruz and a double by Kyle Seager, and the Mariners would lead the rest of the way in a strong performance for Seattle’s pitchers.

Chris Archer got the start for the Tampa Bay Rays, and got through five innings without his typical ability to fool hitters. The Mariners saw the ball really well out of Archer’s hand and racked up seven hits on the lefty, but Archer showed veteran gut in his five innings. Archer struck out six and kept the damage to a minimum, leaving after fifteen outs with the Rays down a manageable 2-0 when it looked at times like Seattle was going to blow the game open.

Alex Colome, pitching against the Rays just over a week after being traded to the Mariners, pitched a scoreless eighth inning as part of the Seattle victory. Denard Span, in his first start against Tampa Bay after being traded in the same deal with Colome, going 1-4 in the seventh spot in the lineup.

Wilmer Font came in for the Rays on Saturday night, surrendering the home run to Healy. The run is Font’s first run allowed as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays.

The loss sends Tampa Bay back to a losing record at 28-29. That’s part of the problem with concentrating on a team getting over the even mark: It can be a day-to-day endeavor, and a series or two against a strong opponent can send a team back below that mark. Seattle is, after years of just missing the playoffs, looking to finally break through and looking like a team with a strong chance to do so. The Mariners are now 36-22, tied for first place in the AL West with the defending World Series Champion Houston Astros.

While the Rays did leave five runners on base throughout the night, they also only had two at bats with runners in scoring position, a recipe for disaster even on a low-scoring night.

Offense will continue to be an issue for a Rays team that is trying to find itself at the dish. There isn’t tremenous power in the lineup, with a number of players capable of hitting home runs but little in the way of true power hitters. The Rays’ 56 home runs are currently 24th in Major League Baseball, and eight below the league average. The lack of quick strike ability means Tampa Bay has to string hits together to score runs, and any night where a starter scatters hits will be a bad night for the Rays.

The series between the Rays and Mariners concludes with a gem of a pitching matchup on Sunday afternoon. Felix Hernandez might not be the overpowering Cy Young Award winner he was in earlier days, but “King Felix” is on what is probably the best Mariners team he has been able to play with to this point. Hernandez’ counterpart, Blake Snell, might be emerging as Tampa Bay’s best starting pitcher as he has really seemed to come into his own in 2018.

Tim Williams has been covering sports since his days as a student at Northeastern University covering events such as the Beanpot. In the thirteen years since, he has covered college hockey, the NFL, Major League Baseball, the PGA Tour, and the National Hockey League. A native of the Tampa Bay area, Tim has returned home after living much of his life in the northeast, including sixteen years in the Boston area. These days the Managing Editor of Sports Talk Florida can be found on Florida's golf courses when he's not working.