SEATTLE — So … maybe the Rays took this Woodstock theme to their trip a little too seriously?
In what certainly looked to be the start of a bad trip — or hallucinations of a past one — the Rays were, well, smoked Monday by the Mariners 12-5.
"We got ambushed,'' manager Joe Maddon said, preferring the western analogy. "We sashayed into the canyon and they were firing from both sides.''
How bad was it?
Well … starter Cesar Ramos allowed hits to the first four Mariners in a three-run first inning, and then actually had a worse second, allowing five more runs and throwing a ball into centerfield. (Though he deserves some credit for lasting into the seventh to save the bullpen.)
Well … the normally tidy Rays made four errors, all by the second inning.
Well … down 9-0 in the sixth, several regulars were pulled from the game and rightfielder Wil Myers was playing first base (which he may do more often in late/extra-inning situations).
"That was a tough game,'' Myers said. "I've been beaten before pretty bad, but that was kind of tough.''
The Rays left the Trop on Sunday after losing for the fifth time in six home games hoping the free-spirited dress-up theme would boost their morale and the change of scenery improve their fortune.
Instead, they found themselves down 8-0 after two innings to Seattle ace Felix Hernandez, who last time he faced the Rays threw a perfect game against them.
"That's called being sub-optimal at that particular moment,'' Maddon said.
So what has already been a bad beginning to their season of great expectations got worse as the Rays dropped to 16-23, the first time they've been seven games under .500 after April since the end of the 2007 season, back in the dark Devil Rays days. (They were 1-8 in 2011.)
Some positives about the night?
Well, the weather was absolutely splendid (a comfortable 76 degrees at first pitch), the scenery in Seattle is always awesome and the food delish.
And, unlike the August 2012 meeting with Hernandez, they actually got a few hits and some runs.
Monday, only the first five went down in order, as Myers reached on an infield single with two outs in the second. They got another hit in the third, though Yunel Escobar got doubled off.
And then they got four actual runs in the seventh, loading the bases on singles by Sean Rodriguez, Logan Forsythe and Myers, then getting a three-run double from Ryan Hanigan and a run-scoring double by David DeJesus.
That ended Hernandez's night, though he barked enough at home plate umpire Mark Ripperger to get ejected on his way out anyway.
What did Hernandez say to Ripperger?
"I was asking about the Miami Heat score,'' Hernandez said.
Maddon moved Myers to first when he took third baseman Evan Longoria, second baseman Ben Zobrist and first baseman James Loney out in the sixth inning, saying it's something he may do when making moves in late and/or extra innings. Myers played first in a five-man infield alignment in the May 2 14-inning game in New York.
"I thought it was the perfect night to give him a little more comfort,'' Maddon said.
Myers, who used coach George Hendricks' first baseman's glove, said he was all for it, having played first base in high school and third in the minors.
"Absolutely,'' he said. "I don't mind moving around, playing wherever. Just to change it up a little bit is nice.''
Ramos had been solid over his last four starts, allowing just four runs, and worked what had been a career-high 5 2/3 innings in his last start on Wednesday against the Orioles.
Maddon was saying before the game how eager he was to see Ramos pitch because of how he had been continually improving. It didn't take long to see that wasn't the case Monday, as by the second inning Ramos had allowed eight runs on eight hits and two walks, and fielded a comebacker for what should have been a routine double play and threw it away, while throwing 54 pitches.
"They were just jumping on his fastball,'' Maddon said. "He was throwing his fastball and they weren't missing it. They were not missing it. They crunched fastball every time they saw it.''
Ramos said the Mariners hitters came out aggressive and he didn't adjust in time.
"It was kind of how the first two innings went — every pitch I threw was off the wall ... and the second inning was kind of, "What's next?'' " Ramos said.
Ramos blamed himself for rushing his throw on the comebacker that would have given him two outs with no one on and a 4-0 deficit. Instead, with Longoria and Loney also making errors in the inning, the Mariners pushed the lead to 8-0.
Maddon raved about what Ramos did from that point on, allowing only one more run and three more hits, and doing so while throwing only 60 more pitches, for 114 total, working a career high 6 2/3 innings.
That allowed Maddon to use only one reliever, mop-up man Josh Lueke, though he allowed a pair of home runs in the eighth to account for the final margin and eliminate any hope of a comeback after they had closed to 9-4 with the seventh-inning rally keyed by Hanigan, who, with a later run-scoring single, is now tied with Loney for the team RBI lead at 22.
"Above all the negative stuff that was happening was that Cesar was the ultimate professional in what he did to get us as deeply into the game as he did and prevent us from having to use more bullpen people benefits us (Tuesday) and the days to come. Often times people don't quite understand that, but what he did (Monday) was spectacular,'' Maddon said.
"I appreciate him even more because of what he did after the tough start. A lot of guys would not do what he did, the way he hung in there and saved the rest of the bullpen. A lot of guys would have caved right there. He did not cave. He took a really bad situation and turned it into an extreme positive for himself in the present tense and his career in the future.''
Well, that's one way to look at it.
Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @TBTimes_Rays.