This was the game against the Seattle Mariners that Tampa Bay Rays fans expected to lose. As so often happens, though, once the game actually started, everyone’s expectations shifted. The matchup with Felix Hernandez wound up being much closer than people thought it would be, and the Rays will hope to put the positives from this contest in context. They did end up losing, but look how exciting they made this game!
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If the Rays had sent Chris Archer to the mound against Hernandez, they would have had a real chance to win. Instead, the way things worked out, Alex Colome was their pitcher instead. Instead of being ace versus ace, it was more like number five starter for the Rays against ace for the Mariners. Yet Colome battled to give his team a chance to win nonetheless. He stranded multiple runners in the second, third, and fourth innings, allowing one run on a Willie Bloomquist single in the fourth but escaping a bases-loaded, no-out situation in that frame while keeping the score at 1-0.
Colome finished with 6 innings allowing 1 run on 7 hits, striking out 2 while walking 3. Allowing that many hits and walks while failing to strike out many hitters is not a good thing, but Colome forced an 8-4 groundout to flyout ratio and was able to compose himself with runners in scoring position. He mixed his fastball, slider/cutter, changeup, and curveball to keep the Mariners off-balance just enough. Now the hope is that his command will be better next time and the result will be strong results that appear more sustainable.
Finally in the top of the sixth inning, the Rays found Colome a run against Felix Hernandez. Kevin Kiermaier got ahead in the count 3-1 with one out in the inning and extended his arms on a sinker up and away and drilled a line drive over the head of Nelson Cruz in right field for a triple. He scored five pitches later when Hernandez threw a wild pitch. Then, after Colome faced the minimum three in his final inning with the help of Rene Rivera throwing out an attempted basestealer, the Rays’ chances looked as promising as ever in the seventh.
With two outs, Asdrubal Cabrera walked, and a second Hernandez wild pitch took him to second base. Jake Elmore proceeded to hit a line drive and make Rays fans believe, but his hit was snagged by Austin Jackson in centerfield. Then, in the bottom of the frame, the Mariners took the momentum back. After a first-pitch splitter, Steve Geltz threw six straight fastballs to Jackson. Geltz got ahead in the count 1-2, but he never wasted even one slider or splitter down. He had no margin for error, and Jackson made him pay, drilling a solo homer when the final heater was in the wrong spot.
Mark Lowe and Carson Smith retired six of the seven batters they saw to end the game–the lone exception was a Kiermaier single–as the Mariners won this game 2-1. It would have been nice if the Tampa Bay Rays had won after they came so close, but they played well and no one will complain if they win today and take three out of four from Seattle. The Rays have their own favorable matchup of ace versus fifth starter this afternoon at 4:10 PM EST as Chris Archer takes on the pitcher that the Rays traded for Erasmo Ramirez, Mike Montgomery.