On the heels of a pitchers’ duel Tuesday, Wednesday’s matinee between the Mariners and Rays was supposed to be a hitters’ showcase, pitting two high-ERA pitchers. It was anything but, as Tampa Bay took a 2-0 win and 2-1 series victory in front of a sun-drenched crowd of 20,941 at Safeco Field.
The Mariners offense struggled to get anything going against Rays rookie starter Jake Odorizzi, one of the hard-throwing youngsters acquired, along with Wil Myers, in a big 2012 trade with Kansas City.
Odorizzi (2-3, 4.89 ERA) struggled in April and entered Wednesday with an ERA near 6.00. In contrast to those struggles, Odorizzi was in command.
The right-hander pitched six shutout innings. He carried a no-hitter through 5.2 innings before James Jones delivered a sharp single to left-center field. Odorizzi struck out seven and walked two in his longest outing this season (also went six innings April 4).
“He had a good mix,” Jones said. “He was using his curveball, locating his fastball well, he pitched a good game.”
Tampa Bay gave Odorizzi a 2-0 lead after a long fourth inning, in which Seattle starter Brandon Maurer yielded a single to Evan Longoria, enticed a ground out, then walked the next three to force in a run. Maurer was lifted for relief pitcher Dominic Leone, who allowed Myers to score on a wild pitch.
Those were all the runs needed as the pitching staff held the Mariners to two hits and five baserunners. After scoring 12 runs on 14 hits in the opener Monday, Seattle managed nine hits and one run over the final two games of the series.
In the eighth inning, frustration boiled over for Seattle and manager Lloyd McClendon. John Buck, on a full count, was called out on strikes after an appeal to first base umpire Lance Barksdale, even though replays showed he checked his swing.
McClendon went out to argue was ejected 50 feet before he reached Barksdale. McClendon threw his hat toward the outfield and got up in the umpire’s face. After about 30 seconds, his hat was returned to him, and as he walked back to the dugout, he flung his cap into the stands, where fans were howling their support.
Buck’s strikeout was the second out, helping thwart a rally.
“Write what you saw, because if I tell it, I’ll get fined,” said McClendon about the ejection. “Our bats weren’t very good. They had a very favorable strike zone. It is what it is.
“It was just a bad day all around for us.”
Seattle (20-20) concluded a stretch of 16 games in 15 days with its first series loss since an eight-game losing skid through the middle of April. The Mariners get a day off Thursday as they go on a two-city, five-game road trip before returning for an 11-game homestand.
“This run has been a grind for us without a day off,” McClendon said. “Do you analyze (this series)? Yeah, but you also have to have the ability to move on. We have to get ready for the Minnesota series, because if we don’t, they’ll kick your butt.”
The analyzing could start with Maurer, who despite the warm weather, had another dreary outing. Maurer lasted just 3.2 innings after allowing two hits and four walks. He was in control for three innings and then lost it, a common refrain in his short major league career.
Alternatively, Seattle had good work from four relievers. Dominic Leone (2.1 innings), Tom Wilhelmsen (one), Charlie Furbush (one) and Danny Farquhar (one) combined to toss 5.1 scoreless innings, allowing one hit, two walks (one intentional) and 10 strikeouts.
“That’s not a recipe for success — six strong innings out of your bullpen,” McClendon said. “They did a nice job of keeping us in that game. Unfortunately we couldn’t put anything together offensively.”
RHP Taijuan Walker (shoulder impingement) threw a 40-pitch bullpen session Wednesday morning which “went really good,” he said. He threw a mixture of fastballs, curveballs and a few cutters at 80-85 percent. He will travel with the team to throw another bullpen and a simulated game . . . LHP James Paxton (strained lat muscle) threw a 52-pitch bullpen Wednesday morning utilizing his full repertoire. He is tentatively scheduled to pitch a simulated game in Minnesota Saturday . . . OF/1B Logan Morrison has been running and taking batting practice all week and will also travel. Morrison will participate in the simulated games, then head out on a minor-league rehab assignment . . . Rays 2B Ben Zobrist left in the fifth inning after dislocating his thumb sliding back into first. The thumb was put back into place and Zobrist will be re-evaluated Thursday. Sean Rodriguez came on to replace him.