The Seattle Mariners (25-31) snapped their 7-game losing streak tonight, beating the Tampa Bay Rays (30-27) 2-1 at Safeco Field. Felix Hernandez (9-2, 2.51 ERA) picked up his 9th win of the season on Saturday night in front of 31,106 loyal subjects. Steve Geltz (1-2, 3.09 ERA) took the loss for Tampa after surrendering the go-ahead run in the 7th inning. Carson Smith finally got an opportunity to close for the M’s, and he took full advantage, pitching a perfect 9th inning for his first career save.
King Felix may not have had his best stuff tonight, but he did more than enough to lead the Mariners to victory. Hernandez allowed just 2 hits across 7 innings, but the Rays managed to plate 1 run. He fanned 6 and walked 3 this evening. Felix generated incredible movement on his pitches, and that cost him in the 6th inning. Following a Kevin Kiermaier triple, a King Felix sinker got away from Mike Zunino and the Rays’ center fielder crossed the plate to tie the game. No pitcher in baseball can hold a candle to Hernandez this season, and 2015 may well be his crowning jewel.
Jun 6, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Mariners catcher Mike Zunino (3) stands on the mound during the ninth inning of a 2-1 Seattle victory against the Tampa Bay Rays at Safeco Field. Smith earned his first career MLB save in the game. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports
It finally happened Mariners’ fans, Lloyd McClendon called on Carson Smith to close out tonight’s game! The uber-talented 25-year-old right-hander had the Rays tied up in knots, and set them down in order to record his first career save. Smith stuck out 1, and appeared to be in complete control throughout. The fact that Fernando Rodney did not pitch tonight is the most hopeful event in weeks for the M’s and their fans. I’m sure McClendon is not ready to hand over the reigns to Smitty quite yet, but if he continues to get the job done, the Mariners’ skip will be left with no choice.
Alex Colome allowed 1 run on 7 hits across 6 innings on Saturday night at Safeco Field. Colome struck out 2 and walked 3 in what has to be considered a disappointing outing. The hard throwing 26-year-old struggled mightily with his command tonight, and if the M’s possessed even a mediocre offense, Colome would have been run out of town. Steve Geltz was called on to pitch in relief, and he surrendered a solo home run that proved to be the game winning run.
Austin Jackson proved to be the Mariners offensive MVP on Saturday night. Jackson came through with a huge home run in the 7th to put the M’s in front, and finished the night 2 for 4 with a double, home run and RBI. AJ entered tonight’s game hitting .378 with 3 doubles, 1 triple and 3 RBI’s over his last 9 games. Logan Morrison had a big night at the dish, going 3 for 4, and extending his hitting streak to 13 games. Nelson Cruz raised his batting average to .326 with a 2-hit performance tonight at Safeco Field.
The Rays struggled to generate any offense tonight, combining to record just 3 hits. Kevin Kiermaier went 2 for 3 with a single, triple, walk and run scored. Kiermaier added a pair of stolen bases to his impressive stat line. Jake Elmore was responsible for the only other Tampa hit.
The Mariners won, and it feels good. It was beginning to feel like they would never win again. The M’s are obviously still not firing on all cylinders, but there were some positive takeaways tonight. Carson Smith‘s save was the most notable, but Austin Jackson finding his stroke is nearly as encouraging. King Felix did what aces are supposed to do; he pitched the M’s out of their rut. I was not expecting it, but the Mariners have an opportunity to split this series if they can somehow come out on top tomorrow afternoon.
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With the win tonight, Seattle slowly embarked on the uphill climb to the catbird seat in the American League West. The M’s remain in 4th place in the AL West, but now trail the division leading Houston Astros by just 8.5 games.
The Seattle Mariners (25-31) will host the Tampa Bay Rays (30-27) for the final time this season on Sunday afternoon at Safeco Field. First pitch is scheduled for 1:10 pm from the corner of Edgar & Dave. Mike Montgomery (0-0, 1.50 ERA) will get a chance to make his former club pay when he gets the ball tomorrow. Chris Archer (6-4, 2.01 ERA) has struck out 27 hitters over his last 2 starts, including 12 Mariners, and he will toe the rubber for the Rays in the series finale. Root Sports Northwest will broadcast the game locally, and MLB.tv subscribers can watch on connected devices.