Mariners send off Rays with another grand slam
What happened: Mike Zunino smacked his first-career grand slam in the fifth to lead the Mariners in 9-2 rout of the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday night at Safeco Field. It was Seattle’s sixth victory in the last seven games.
Zunino’s slam bounced into the top tier of the left-field stands and extended Seattle’s lead to 9-1. It was the second grand slam of the three-game series. Taylor Motter recorded the first in Friday’s 12-4 win during the first inning.
Zunino was 3 for 4 with seven RBI against the Rays and was a triple short of a cycle for the Mariners (27-30).
Nelson Cruz started the five-run inning in the fifth with a solo home run to left-center. It was Cruz’s 100th homer in an M’s jersey. Cruz went 3 for 4 at the plate and, like Zunino, was a triple shy of a cycle.
The Rays (29-29) scored only on two home runs, including a lead-off homer Rays designated hitter Corey Dickerson.
The Mariners have already out-scored Tampa Bay 21-6 in two meetings of the series. Seattle has collected 27 hits in total so far in the series, 16 on Saturday, while the Rays have only 15.
- Tampa Bay’s Corey Dickerson set the tone with a lead-off home run that barely cleared the right-field wall. The Mariners weren’t as lucky in their first at-bats. They recorded a 1-2-3 frame against Rays right-hander Alex Cobb that closed out the inning with Seattle trailing 1-0.
- Seattle’s Nelson Cruz doubled on s sharp grounder to left filed to start the bottom of the second. Kyle Seager launched a long fly to right field on a 3-2 count that was a foot short of a home run. Cruz, who advanced to third on Seager’s hit, touched home for Seattle’s first score after Danny Valencia singled on a line drive to left field.
- In the fourth, Valencia’s glove hit the ground to barely catch Logan Morrison’s hard liner to first. Evan Longoria, who was on first, had no chance beating Valencia back to first base. Longoria threw up his arms in frustration as Valencia finished out the double play.
- In the bottom of the frame, Valencia and Taylor Motter got on base safely off of singles to right field. Zunino collected another RBI with a single to left field that sent home Valencia, extending Seattle’s lead to 4-1.
- Cruz smacked a solo home run to left-center in the fifth to give Seattle a 5-1 lead. It was Cruz’s 13th homer of the season. Dyson loaded the bases with two outs after Rays catcher Derek Norris bobbled Dyson’s bunt on the third-base line. Zunino capped off his three-hit streak on Saturday with a grand slam to the top of the stands in left field. Seattle took a 9-1 leading heading into the sixth.
- Zunino struck out in his final at-bat in the eighth, but the fans at Safeco didn’t seem to care. The catcher received a big applause as he walked back to the dugout for his three-hit, seven-RBI night.
- The Rays managed to get one more run on the board when Morrison sent a pitch over the center-field wall.
Mike Zunino had a piece of the action with a line drive to center field that landed him on second and sent home Valencia and Jarrod Dyson. Ben Gamel nearly continued the scoring frenzy with a blooper to left field, but Tampa Bay’s left-fielder Colby Rasmus caught Zunino before he could tag home plate to end the inning.
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Players of the Game
Hero: Mike Zunino. 3 for 4. First grand slam of the year. Seven RBIs. I think that covers it.
Goat: Alex Cobb. Allowed 14 hits and earned all nine runs in five innings.
- Zunino’s seven-RBI night was the 14th time in club history that a Seattle player recorded at least seven RBI in a single game. Cruz was the last player to hit seven RBI in a single game when the Mariners visited Toronto on July 23, 2016. The team record is eight, which was marked by Mike Cameron (2001), Alvin Davis (1986) and Mike Blowers (1995).
- Cruz recorded his 100th home run in 362 games for the Mariners, the fastest by any player in team history. Saturday’s homer was Cruz’s 297th career home run.
- Ben Gamel extended his hitting streak to seven games. During the streak, which began May 28, Gamel has posted a .481 batting average (13x27) with a double, a triple and two RBI.
Tampa Bay Rays (29-29) at Seattle Mariners (27-30) on Sunday at 1:10 p.m. at Safeco Field. LHP Ariel Miranda (5-2, 4.17) hosts RHP Erasmo Ramirez (3-0, 3.66).
What others are saying (and writing)
There is no denying Zunino’s stroke looks better. It is shorter to the ball and longer through it, allowing him to wait longer and let the ball travel. Whether it will last is another story. … One guy with a great short stroke is injured shortstop Jean Segura, who feels he will be back before anyone expects. … The M’s 9-2 win over the Rays is their sixth win on their last seven games. … Valencia has played a big role in the M's roll. … Gamel is learning how to play first base. … Hisashi Iwakuma won’t be back anytime soon. … You don't forget your first hit.
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