The Tampa Bay Rays ended three-plus seasons of futility at T-Mobile (formerly Safeco) Park Friday night with a nondescript 5-3 win over the Seattle Mariners.
The Rays scored three times in the ninth to take a 5-2 lead, with the final score coming on a solo home run by Mariners outfielder Ryan Court with one out in the bottom of the ninth off Tampa Bay reliever Emilio Pagan.
The three runs the Rays scored in the top of the ninth came on a bases-loaded walk to Ji-Man Choi, an error by Mariners shortstop J.P. Crawford on a Tommy Pham grounder, and a fielder's choice groundout by Austin Meadows. All the damage was done against Seattle reliever Anthony Bass, who picked up the loss.
The Rays, who had lost nine straight at the Mariners' ballpark, opened the scoring in their half of the second, when Matt Duffy doubled with one out. Kevin Kiermaier followed with a single, but Duffy hesitated off second and ended up at third. Mike Brosseau then grounded right back to Mariners' starter Marco Gonzales, who surprisingly did not check Duffy at third and threw to second, forcing Kiermaier, and allowing Duffy to score.
Tampa Bay picked up their second run in the third, as Jesus Aguilar grounded into a fielder's choice with a slow roller to third that scored Pham, who had led off with a single and moved to third on a Kiermaier single.
After that, the Rays did not have any runner past second through the 8th, continuing a trend of quiet offense for lengthy periods of time. Though they received a break in the seventh, as Gonzales, who stifled the Rays' bats after the third, was removed after taking a Pham grounder off his leg.
Seattle answered back in the bottom of the third, as Domingo Santana singled home Mallex Smith, who had singled against his former team, and moved to second on a J.P. Crawford groundout. They tied the game in the fourth on a two-out RBI single by right fielder Ryan Court, which ended the night of Rays' starter Jalen Beeks, who did not provide the length that Kevin Cash wanted out of him. This added more strain on the Rays' bullpen, but Colin Poche, Chaz Roe and Nick Anderson held Seattle bats quiet after Beeks' removal, allowing only one hit and striking out eight.
*Travis d'Arnaud was the Rays' defensive hero, throwing out two runners attempting to steal: Crawford in the first, and Keon Broxton, pinch running for Daniel Vogelbach in the 8th.
*Oliver Drake picked up the win, his first of the season, pitching a scoreless eighth, with help from d'Arnaud.
*Pagan picked up his 10th save, allowing only the homer to Court.
*The Rays left 18 men on base; the Mariners 22.
*Saturday, Tampa Bay will start its ace, Charlie Morton (12-4 2.77 ERA), while Seattle has yet to name its starter. First pitch is scheduled for 10:10 p.m. ET.