Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay Rays beat Seattle Mariners 8-0

SEATTLE — The Rays still have a long way to go. And even always optimistic manager Joe Maddon knows that.

But before, and again after Jeff Niemann and a rejuvenated offense produced an 8-0 victory over the Mariners on Friday night, Maddon figured it was the right time, and place, to point out that it's still possible for them to make a run for a spot in the playoffs.

"The 1995 Seattle Mariners," he said, and that was all that was needed. That was a team that was 11 games out of first place on July 30, fell to 13 back on Aug. 2, then roared back to catch, and ultimately defeat in a one-game playoff, the Angels for a playoff spot. That would be the Angels who had Maddon as their first-base coach.

"That stuff can happen,'' he said. "1995 is in my memory bank very strongly. I remember what it felt like. I remember what it tasted like. It can happen. But it only happens if you believe it can happen. If you don't believe it can happen, then it cannot. Period. So I'm a believer. And it's our job, it's my job, to convince these other 25 guys it can happen.''

But Friday, against a woeful Mariners team on a beautiful Pacific Northwest night, they had reason to believe. They won consecuitve games for the first time since early July, and for only the fourth time since May 12, they gained a game on both the Red Sox and Yankees, moving to within 9½ games of first place and seven off the wild card.

"From our perspective, if we can gain one game a week for the rest of the season, I'll take it,'' Maddon said. "That puts us in pretty good shape.''

The Rays' eight-run second-inning outburst — their biggest in more than three years, since a 10-run fifth at Florida on June 25, 2008 — got the attention Friday.

But Niemann — reportedly offered in trade this week — was worthy of applause. He struck out a career-high 11 while holding the Mariners to one hit through six innings and three total while working into the seventh.

"Outstanding,'' Maddon said.

Niemann improved to 5-4 overall, and 4-0 with a 1.88 ERA in seven starts since coming off the disabled list following a back strain. His 1.06 ERA for five July starts is a team record for any month.

"It's been fun to get back out there and help the team win,'' Niemann said.

The curveball was a key weapon Friday, and the fastball was pretty good, too. Neither Niemann nor Maddon realized he had that many strikeouts until after the game, which reflected his less-than-stellar command, as he threw 118 pitches over the 6 2/3 innings.

The Rays' outburst started innocently enough against Erik Bedard: a single by Casey Kotchman, continuing a comeback from his dismal 2010 season in Seattle, and after a Kelly Shoppach strikeout, walks to Matt Joyce and Sean Rodriguez to load the bases.

Rookie Desmond Jennings, continuing to show impressive patience at the plate, worked a full-count walk to force in the first run. A single by Johnny Damon scored two and ended the night of Bedard, as well as that of the assembled scouts from contenders seeking a starter.

Ben Zobrist hit a two-run homer off reliever Aaron Laffey to make it 6-0. Kotchman's double scored B.J. Upton from first, then Shoppach singled home Kotchman to complete the scoring. The 12 batters were also a season-high, and it made for the first time in 14 seasons the Rays had consecutive games with seven or more runs in a single frame.

"We had a really good inning,'' Zobrist said. "I think we put together some good at-bats and did some good things.''

Niemann was pitching two days after his name surfaced in trade talks, the St. Louis Post Dispatch reporting the Rays offered him and reliever J.P. Howell to the Cardinals for Colby Rasmus but were turned down. With the deadline for nonwaiver deals at 4 p.m. Sunday, there has been a lot of speculation involving the Rays.

Niemann said he wants to stay with the Rays, and acknowledged he was a bit concerned about the possibility of a trade.

"It's something that's definitely floating around the clubhouse; everyone is keeping their eyes or keeping their ears open on things," he said. "But you do your best to not let it bug you and just try to go out there and worry about the game at hand and try to do your best.

"Before, it really was nothing. But then (Wednesday) you find out your name was really actually thrown around. And it … it's not that a big a deal … there's nothing … it doesn't really matter ... it matters not at all."

Friday night, it didn't seem to bother him a bit.

Niemann certainly didn't seem bothered, as he improved to 3-0, 2.15 in four career starts at Safeco Field.

Rays 8

Mariners 0


Tampa Bay Rays beat Seattle Mariners 8-0 07/29/11 [Last modified: Saturday, July 30, 2011 2:19am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Joe Maddon gets warm reception in return to the Trop

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The night was arranged to honor former Rays manager Joe Maddon in his first visit back to the Trop, and the standing ovation from the bipartisan crowd and scoreboard video tribute seemed proper acknowledgments of his hefty role in the Rays' success during his nine-year stint.

    Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon (70) talks with reporters during a press conference before the start of the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017.
  2. Rays vs. Cubs, 7:10 p.m. Wednesday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tonight: vs. Cubs

    7:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM; 680-AM (Spanish)

    Tampa Bay Rays' Blake Snell poses for a picture during the team's photo day at baseball spring training in Port Charlotte, Fla., Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
  3. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Tuesday's Rays-Cubs game

    The Heater

    Chris Archer's night ended with his 11th loss, but he and the Rays should feel good about his six solid innings. After the forearm tightness scare in Chicago, he had two rough outings (15 hits, 11 runs, seven innings), so Tuesday was a reassuring rebound.

  4. At 6-8, Lightning prospect Oleg Sosunov comes with, and needs, a high ceiling

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — When Hall of Famer Phil Esposito first saw Lightning prospect Oleg Sosunov, he joked that the 6-foot-8 defenseman could reach the Amalie Arena ceiling.

    Lightning 6-foot-8 defenseman Oleg Sosunov competes in the preseason opener. Phil Esposito jokes that Sosunov can reach the ceiling at Amalie Arena.
  5. Jones: Rays' Kevin Cash doesn't mind following in Joe Maddon's steps

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — On this particular night, he's the other guy. He's like a talk-show guest scooted to the end of the couch. He is Kevin Cash. And the Rays manager is standing in the home dugout at Tropicana Field.

    ST. PETERSBURG, FL - SEPTEMBER 17: Manager Kevin Cash (L) of the Tampa Bay Rays reacts to action during the game against the Boston Red Sox at Tropicana Field on September 17, 2017 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Joseph Garnett Jr./Getty Images) 700012494