SEATTLE – Dressed in their Woodstock finest, the Tampa Bay Rays flew cross-country Sunday night with the horrible homestand behind them and their eyes on the first West Coast swing of the season.
And the Seattle Mariners crushed them, 12-5, Monday night at Safeco Field.
“We got ambushed,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “We sashayed into the canyon, and they were firing from both sides.”
The Rays have lost six of their last seven and fell to seven games under .500 for the first time since opening the 2011 season at 1-8.
“It was a tough game,” Wil Myers said. “I’ve been beaten before pretty bad, but that was kind of tough.”
The Mariners jumped on Rays starter Cesar Ramos, scoring nine times in the first three innings with the help of some loud hits and four errors from the Rays.
“He was throwing fastball and they weren’t missing it,” Maddon said. “They were not missing it. They crunched fastball every time they saw it. They hit it well. They didn’t miss it. They didn’t foul it off. They didn’t take it.”
Mariners starter Felix Hernandez, who threw a perfect game the last time he faced the Rays, was up 3-0 after the first inning and 8-0 as he took the mound to start the third.
“That’s called suboptimal,” Maddon said.
Ramos, though, earned praise from his manager for what he did after falling behind 9-0. The left-hander kept pitching, throwing a career-high 114 pitches, and remained in the game into the seventh inning, when he was finally removed with two outs.
“What happened, above all the negative stuff, what happened was that Cesar was the ultimate professional,” Maddon said. “What he did to get us as deeply into the game as he did and prevented us from using more bullpen people was really beneficial to us (tonight) and the days to come.”
Even Ramos was pleased with how things turned out … eventually. After allowing nine runs (five earned) on a career-high 11 hits, Ramos did retire the final 12 batters he faced.
“Especially the way the thing started it could have got uglier than what it already was,” Ramos said. “But, you know, did my best going forward, tried to keep us in the game, not having to use the bullpen early. I was able to make some adjustment.”
The Mariners hit two balls off the top of the wall in the first inning. Both were reviewed to see if they actually cleared the wall. They did not.
“They came out aggressive, and I took too long to make adjustments,” Ramos said. “They definitely didn’t let me throw a first pitch strike with my fastball. My fastball was off the wall.”
Mike Zunino homered to start the second inning, and then things really went south for the Rays.
Evan Longoria and Ramos made throwing errors on back-to-back plays. James Loney let a grounder roll through his legs for the third error of the inning.
Myers made a first-inning error to help the Rays tie their season-high for miscues.
“We just had a horrible second inning,” Maddon said.
Maddon moved Myers from right field to first base in the bottom of the sixth inning to get Myers more experience at that position. Myers, who played first base against the Yankees in New York on the last trip as part of a five-man infield, could play there again in the same defensive alignment or in extra innings if Maddon decides to pinch-run for Loney.
Ryan Hanigan drove in four runs, three with a bases-loaded double in the seventh inning. He is now tied with Loney for the team lead with 22 RBI.
A single by David DeJesus in the seventh inning drove home Hanigan and cut the Mariners lead to 9-4.
But Josh Lueke, who followed Ramos, gave up three eighth-inning runs on a pair of home runs.
With his team in a tailspin, Maddon was asked after the loss if it was time for a team meeting. Maddon said no, because he does not like meetings and because he said he is not upset with the way the Rays are playing despite the losses.
“Cesar had a tough night,” Maddon said. “You don’t get angry at a tough night. More than anything he showed me a lot. I appreciate him even more after the bad start. A lot of guys would not do what he did.”