Mariners can't stop streaking Tampa Bay
Rays win seventh consecutive game to take over American League wild-card lead
Seattle Times staff reporter
Tampa Bay @ Mariners, 7:10 p.m., ROOT Sports
The Mariners were unable to keep the momentum going from two rousing wins over the Angels, falling to the red-hot Tampa Bay Rays, 4-1, at Safeco Field on Monday.
Furthermore, first baseman Mike Carp is likely headed to the disabled list for the third time this season with a hip injury suffered on Sunday. It's possible the Mariners will recall Justin Smoak, who was removed from his final at-bat with Tacoma in Memphis on Monday night. Smoak is hitting .242 with the Rainiers, but has five hits in his last 10 at-bats, including two on Monday.
"Yeah, there's a chance," manager Eric Wedge said when asked if the Mariners would bring back Smoak to play first base. "But we have to sit down and talk about it and make sure we're all on the same page. Smoaky's been doing better down there, he's been working like he does, and I think he's in a good frame of mind."
Smoak was sent down to Tacoma on July 23, the same day Ichiro was traded to the Yankees. Carp took over at first base, but in Sunday's game against the Angels, he aggravated his left hip while making a stretch. Carp underwent an MRI on Monday.
"He does have something going on," Wedge said after the game. "Because of the position he plays and having to stretch and whatnot, there's a pretty good chance we're going to have to put him on the DL ... We want to nip this in the bud."
Blake Beavan, who had been unbeaten in five starts since coming back up from Tacoma, had one bad inning against Tampa Bay, but it was enough to sink him. The Rays bunched five straight hits in the third inning — including a two-run homer from B.J. Upton — to score all four of their runs.
"It should have been a totally different game if I could execute a pitch here and there and make a quality pitch, instead of a pitch that's average," Beavan said.
The Rays have won seven in a row to take over the wild-card lead in the American League. The streak coincides with the return of All-Star Evan Longoria from a three-month stint on the disabled list for a hamstring injury, but Longoria sat out Monday's game.
Rays starter Alex Cobb blanked the Mariners on two hits over the first four innings, one of them a bunt single by Kyle Seager. In the fifth, they finally got on the scoreboard, but ran themselves out of a chance for a bigger inning.
Trayvon Robinson led off with a triple, flashing his speed on a drive to left-center that bounced off the wall. Eric Thames singled to right to score Robinson, but was caught off first after a pitch in the dirt that got away a short distance from catcher Jose Molina.
"It's funny how the ball bounces," Wedge said. "It's in the dirt, and he takes a good secondary (lead). It popped right back up to Molina, and (Thames) was kind of caught in no man's land.
"That's a tough one there. I know what he's trying to do. The ball's in the dirt, you read and take off. And literally it bounces right back to him. We were just on the south end of some luck there."
Chone Figgins drew a walk and got to second on a ground out, but Dustin Ackley grounded out to end the inning.
The Mariners, who had hit .310 at Safeco during a seven-game winning streak on the last homestand, returned to their previous pattern of flailing at home. They managed just five hits.
The game marked the home debut for rookie flamethrower Carter Capps, who reached 99 mph. Capps had control issues, walking three in the seventh, but he picked off one of them and got out of the inning unscathed by striking out Upton on a nasty curve.
Upton's second-inning homer, his 13th, brought home Jennings, who had singled in Sam Fuld. Ben Zobrist added an RBI double later in the inning. Beavan recovered to allow just one hit over his final 3-2/3 innings.
"He threw so many pitches that inning, we talked about whether or not to even send him back out," Wedge said. "We were going to take it inning by inning. He got it pretty easy after that. He did a better job of executing pitches. He got a little sloppy that inning. He hung some breaking balls and missed some spots with his fastball, and they made him pay for it."