Damon Walks Off as the Rays Sweep the Mariners out of the Trop
After the top of the first, the Rays were no-doubt wondering whether they could begin this game over as James Shields had a very uncharacteristically bad start. After getting Ichiro Suzuki out on one pitch, Franklin Gutierrez and Dustin Ackley singled. Shields tried one of his great pickoff moves, but when the ball arrived at second, Reid Brignac wasn’t there. The runners moved up on the mix-up and came home when an obviously bothered Shields grooved one to Casper Wells who homered to make it 3-0.
Shields was not at his best today (far from it), but managed to keep the Rays in the game, which was a difficult assignment against the likes of Michael Pineda. He’s the reason, along with Ackley and Mike Carp (who extended his hitting streak to 20 games today) that Mariners fans are looking forward to the future. But right now, the present is pretty dismal for the Mariners. The Rays were able to chip away at a 4-0 deficit in the second when both Ben Zobrist and Matt Joyce singled, stole second and scored on singles. They managed to get Pineda out of the game after six innings down only 5-3.
The Rays took advantage of the Mariners bullpen who was very wild in the seventh. A walk, a double and then two more walks drew the Rays within 5-4 and gave Johnny Damon a chance with the bases loaded. He slammed a ball that clanked off the yellow line in right centerfield. The ball bounced high into the air and then into Ichiro’s glove. By the time he got the ball in, three runs had scored. Umpires were also waiving in Johnny Damon as it appeared on first look that the ball had cleared the wall. On further review, they put Damon back on second. The Rays couldn’t put the run back on the board.
That would prove costly in the top of the eighth. Wily Mo Pena has bounced around the past few years, but his ability has never been questioned. He showed some of that ability by slamming a low curve ball from Shields. The ball continued to rise until it slammed off the Captain Morgan porch in left center field. The blast tied the game.
The Rays looked to untie the game in the bottom of the eighth but they were foiled by a baggy pant leg and a quick catcher’s reaction. They put runners on first and third with one out when a Dan Cortes pitch just nipped the uniform of Desmond Jennings. Damon came up again with the bases loaded, but wasn’t given the chance to be the hero as another errant pitch resulted in Joyce being tagged out at home. Damon just had to wait another inning. On the first pitch from Cortes in the ninth, he slammed a ball over the wall giving the Rays an 8-7 win and a sweep over Seattle.
Player of the Game: Johnny Damon