The media dining room here is great place for grabbing a bite for $8, then sitting around and talk to scouts, writers and other baseball types - but tonight the lone main dish was ... catfish nuggets.
Now, I like fish and I like cats. I'm not fond of them together, and anything that ends with 'nuggets' is usually an artery clogger. Lots of salad being devoured here tonight.
As for the Seattle Mariners, their offense took the day off yesterday in a 1-0 loss, and in games in wihch Jose Lopez has not hit three home runs, they're 0-2 on this trip. And that was against a .500 Toronto Blue Jays team.
These Rays? Nasty, in a good way. Seattle gets a bit of a break in that Evan Longoria has a quad strain, won't start tonight and might not start this series. Sadly, for the Mariners, Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena and Ben Zobrist are in the lineup.
Jason Vargas will start and, in between innings, do a dance behind the dugout to bring runs. Hey, it could work. And it will burn off any catfish nuggets he may have consumed.
- Ichiro singled and was forced by Chone Figgins. Jose Lopez singled on a hit-and-run, sending Figgins to third base. A run in the making? Please. Franklin Gutierrez grounded into a double play.
- Ben Zobrist led off with a double and scored on a Kelly Shoppach ground-rule double. Vargas stopped the damage there, but one run beat Seattle yesterday. There's rarely much margin for a Seattle starting pitcher. In the second: Tampa Bay 1, Seattle 0.
- B.J. Upton doubled and Jason Bartlett walked. Carl Crawford grounded out, both runners advancing. Willie Aybar flied out, scoring Upton. In the third: Tampa Bay 2, Seattle 0.
- Figgins singled and stole second, a scoring threat unto himself. Lopez grounded out, Figgins to third. Gutierrez beat out an infield single, scoring Figgins, then stole second base. Adam Moore singled home a run. Michael Saunders walked. Matt Tuiasosopo struck out. In the fourth: Tampa Bay 2, Seattle 2.
- Upton walked and stole second base. Bartlett singled him to third. Aybar singled Upton home. On a squeeze, Ben Zobrist bunted for a single, Bartlett scoring. Ryan Rowland-Smith replaced Vargas. Shoppach singled to load 'em up. Aybar scored on a passed ball. In the fifth: Tampa Bay 5, Seattle 2.
- Lopez doubled and with two outs, Moore singled him home, taking second on the throw to the plate. In the sixth: Tampa 5, Seattle 3.
- With two outs in the seventh, Ichiro doubled. That's his 202nd hit of the season and, if you're wondering, the next highest total by a Mariner this season belongs to Figgins - who has 146.
- Rookie Dan Cortes opened the seventh inning, and his first pitch was a 97 mph fastball. He got a ground out, a strike out and - on a 98 mph fastball - a ground out. Daren Brown may let him start tomorrow's game. Just kidding.
- Rookie Anthony Vavaro took over in the eighth inning, making ihs major league debut. He struck out the first man he faced on a 77 mph breaking ball, used a 92 mph fastball and 76 mph change to strike out the second. He walked one man, then got a ground ball. Brown may let him start tomorrow. Really.
- In the ninth: ex-Mariner and now All-Star closer Rafael Soriano came in to finish up. He struck out Saunders, walked Tuiasosopo. Pinch hitter Matt Mangini popped out. Ichiro grounded out. That's 44 saves for Soriano. It's a final: Tampa Bay 5, Seattle 3.