MOTTER DELIVERS BIG BLOW WITH GRAND SLAM IN FIRST
What happened: Taylor Motter and Danny Valencia led the offensive explosion and the Seattle Mariners pounded the Tampa Bay Rays 12-4 on Friday at Safeco Field.
The Mariners (26-30) have won five of their last six.
Motter only had one of the M’s 11 hits, but it was a big one – his second grand slam of the season came in the first inning and put the M’s up 5-0 before everyone had found their seats with their popcorn and cold beverage.
Valencia continued his impressive May performance with a 3-for-3 night, scoring three times and driving in five runs.
Rookie Tyler Smith, called up when Jean Segura was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a high right ankle sprain, doubled in his first MLB at-bat late in the game.
Meanwhile, Christian Bergman (W, 3-2) did more than enough considering all the support. He gave up two runs on seven hits and two walks, striking out six.
Tampa starter Jake Odorizzi had probably his worst outing of the season. He allowed eight runs – through just three were earned – on four hits and three walks over 2 1/3 innings.
- After a quiet top half of the first, the M’s made life rough on Rays starter Jake Odorizzi. Ben Gamel led off with a ground ball single and went to third as Guillermo Heredia reached on a error by former Mariners’ second baseman Brad Miller. A wild pitch moved Heredia up to second and Robinson Cano then walked.
- DH Nelson Cruz looked bad swinging through a high fastball to strike out with the bases loaded, but Odorizzi walked Danny Valencia to force a run in. Two pitches after barely missing a grand slam with a crushed foul ball down the line, Taylor Motter straightened one out into the second row of the bleachers for his sixth home run and second grand slam of the season.
- The M’s blew it open in the third. Cano led off with a single and Cruz drew a walk. After Kyle Seager flied out to death valley in right-center, Valencia hit one to left-center that just made it over the fence for a three-run shot, ending Odorizzi’s night.
- Bergman gave up back-to-back solo home runs to Colby Rasmus (7) and Tim Beckham (9) in the fourth.
- Bergman found more hot water with two down in the fifth. Kevin Kiermaier stroked one into right then Even Longoria moved him over to third with a single to center. He recovered to strike out ex-Mariner Logan Morrison.
- The Rays made it somewhat interesting in the seventh when Keirmaier hit a two-run shot (7) into the first row in center off James Pazos.
- It didn’t matter. The M’s scored four more in the bottom half. Cano walked, Cruz doubled and Boog Powell pinch-ran. After Seager struck out, Valencia singled through a drawn-in infield and Cano scored. Motter walked, and Jarrod Dyson singled off Miller’s glove with the infield half-way and two more runs came in. Mike Zunino’s sacrifice fly to the track plated Motter to make it 12-4.
Motter was due. His second grand slam of the season was the big blow, and Valencia had himself a day. The best news to come out of Safeco though was Felix Hernandez feeling good after a simulated game before batting practice. The staff leader is now set for a rehab assignment for Tacoma on Tuesday and he could rejoin the rotation by the end of the following week.
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Players of the Game
Hero: Taylor Motter. Yeah. Valencia’s numbers were better. But if Motter, say, grounds into a double play in the first instead of the salami, we could be talking about a much different game.
Goat: Jake Odorizzi. Pee-yew.
- Danny Valencia equaled his career-high with five RBI. He has collected at least one RBI in four of his last five games and has nine RBIs during that span. Valencia has hit safely in 21 of 27 games, batting .314 with four home runs and 20 RBIs.
- Christian Bergman has equaled his single-season career-high with three wins and improved to 2-0 with a 1.59 ERA (3 ER, 17 innings) with 17 strikeouts and five walks in three games at Safeco Field this season.
- Tyler Smith made his Major League debut as a defensive replacement at second base in the top of the eighth inning and collected his first career Major League hit, a double to left field, in the bottom of the eighth.
- Taylor Motter becaome the 28th different Mariners player to hit multiple grand slam home runs in a single season. Motter also hit a grand slam on April 23 at Oakland.
Tampa Bay Rays (29-28) at Seattle Mariners (26-30) on Saturday at 7:10 p.m. at Safeco Field. Sam Gaviglio (1-1, 2.50) hosts Alex Cobb (4-4, 3.67).
What others are saying (and writing)
The big news last night was Motter’s first-inning grand slam. That was the rocket fuel for the 12-4 win. But there are other storylines as well. … The Rays were feeling pretty good coming into Safeco. … There is more news on the injury front. That’s a pretty safe bet recently.
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