The Rays are a good team. I heard ESPN's Buster Olney comparing them to the 1998 Yankees that won the World Series, which he covered. I don't know if the Rays are that good. They have a good lineup, the rotation is solid, but Rafael Soriano as the closer? Well you sir are no Mariano Rivera.
Well Wak preached about fundamentals on offense, perhaps he better address the defensive fundamentals. Chone Figgins commits an error on the first batter of the game and Jack Wilson drops a routine double play ball. Two batters, two errors, 12 gray hairs for Wak. But Jason Vargas is a gamer and he got Ben Zobrist to fly out, he struck out Evan Longoria and then survived a very deep fly from Carlos Pena. Nice Job Jason, way to get five outs in an inning.
Remember fundamentals on defense and offense, well you can add base running, Ichiro is picked off by James Shields at first. Chone Figgins then struck out and Franklin Gutierrez grounded out. There was some controversy since it appeared that Reid Brignac's throw to first pulled Pena off the bag. But CB Bucknor, otherwise known as one of the worst umps in baseball, rules that Pena stayed on the bag. Don Wakamatsu came out to argue, but to no avail. Apparently replays showed that Bucknor did indeed make the right call. That doesn't happen often.
Vargas looks sharp, striking out a pair of batters and Jack Wilson makes up for his error by making a nice diving grab on a sinking liner from Dioner Navarro.
The Mariners don't do much against Rays starter James Shields. He's pretty tough. Don't expect a ton offense while he's on the mound.
Vargas gets in trouble by walking Carl Crawford - the last guy you want to walk - with one out. Ben Zobrist follows with a double into left field and Crawford scored all the way from first. Watching him run the bases is impressive. Vargas then walks Evan Longoria, but he had a base open. He then gets Carlos Pena to fly out to end the inning.
Shields mows down Kotchman, Wilson and Adam Moore. He's at 33 pitches after three innings.
Again a one-out walk comes back to haunt Vargas as Pat Burrell reaches and later scores on Reid Brignac's RBI single to right. Vargas battles out by striking out Sean Rodriguez and Carl Crawford to end the inning.
The Mariners finally get a hit off Shields - a single by Franklin Gutierrez, but that's all they get is one hit.
Well the Rays tack on another run in the fifth as Longoria crushes a solo home run deep into the Mariners bullpen. Jack Wilson also commits another error, but Vargas gets out of it.
Shockingly the Mariners go 1-2-3.
The Rays go down in order for the first time since the 2nd.
The Mariners score a run --- on a wild pitch. Jack Wilson leads off with a double down the line. But Adam Moore strikes out. Ichiro then reaches on a single and Wilson moves to third and later scores on Shields wild pitch., The Mariners load the bases as Figgins gets an infield single and Gutierrez singles, but Milton Bradley and Ken Griffey both strike out.
That was it. That was their chance. They had Shields on the ropes. And now he'll probably pitch into the eighth.
Brandon League comes in after one out, and gets Zobrist to pop out. But Longoria singled on a nice diving stop by Casey Kotchman, who couldn't quite get the throw to first. Jack Wilson then commits his third error of the game and pinch hitter Willy Aybar dumps a pop single into shallow left.
Predictably, Shields goes 1-2-3 through Lopez, Kotchman and Wilson.
Jesus Colome comes in and has a Miguel Batista type of inning -- it took forever, he gave up a run on a wild pitch and took all rhythm to the game and stomped on it.
Adam Moore strikes out for the third time tonight, Ichiro Ks and Figgins flies out. Shields will be going to the ninth.
Longoria has third hit tonight, but nothing much happens.
The Mariners get runners on first and third as Guti gets his third hit of the night and then Ryan Langerhans singled to right. Griffey comes up and hits a soft grounder to second to score a run. Lopez stuck out, Kotchman kept the hope alive with a walk, but Jack Wilson struck out on three pitches to end the rally.