SEATTLE – An ill chill swept through Safeco Field, and it wasn’t just the frigid temperature Wednesday night.
The Tampa Bay Rays beat the Seattle Mariners in every way in a 9-3 victory, scoring in each of the first six innings while feasting on poor pitching and defense by the M’s.
“Our team revolves around pitching and defense, and tonight we weren’t very good at either,” manager Don Wakamatsu said.
The M’s made two errors and could have been charged with two more. And, from starter Chris Jakubauskas to Mark Lowe, there wasn’t a M’s pitcher who worked a clean inning.
Jakubauskas, the feel-good story of the early season because of his rise to the big leagues from independent ball, gave up 10 hits and six runs in 31/3 innings before being pulled.
“Jakubauskas was rushing a little bit and got a lot of balls up and never got into a groove,” Wakamatsu said. “That’s one of the things with young pitching, sometimes you see it.”
With an offense that’s struggling to score runs – the Mariners have averaged less than three runs in their past four games – Wakamatsu said he left Jakubauskas in the game longer than he might normally in order to keep from wearing down the bullpen.
Sean White, Roy Corcoran, Miguel Batista and Lowe finished, and it wasn’t until Batista got out of the seventh after allowing a leadoff single that the Rays were held scoreless in an inning. Mariners pitchers gave up a season-high 15 hits.
It didn’t help that the 48-degree temperature at first pitch, along with a game that got away early, turned the announced crowd of 16,476 to only a couple of thousand by the finish. The temperature was 43 by the seventh-inning stretch, which nobody should have approached too vigorously for fear of pulling something.
That already had felled one Mariner early in the game.
Mike Sweeney, who had replaced injured Russell Branyan at first base this week, awkwardly tried to check his swing in the second inning and suffered spasms in his upper back. Sweeney twisted, turned and grimaced outside the batter’s box, then was led gingerly off the field by trainer Rick Griffin. He will be re-evaluated today.
Jose Lopez played the final six innings at second base and Ronny Cedeno played second.
It was Lopez who broke up a no-hitter by Rays starter Jeff Niemann, hitting a three-run home run in the fifth. That blow, making the score 7-3 at the time, was the first home run by a Mariners first baseman since Branyan hit one April 11 at Oakland.
Jakubauskas easily could have escaped the first inning without a run, but Sweeney booted a high chop by Carl Crawford with one out. It was ruled a hit.
Evan Longoria, the next hitter, hit a similar bouncer that found the hole between third and shortstop for a single before Carlos Pena doubled to right-center to score two runs.
Jakubauskas threw two wild pitches and walked two before getting out of the inning. Mariners pitchers threw three more wild pitches.