Hisashi Iwakuma pitched well enough to win tonight, but his offense pretty much vanished — with one notable exception — after the first inning.
The Mariners scored in that first, but had just two more hits the rest of the game and struck out 17 times against James Shields and the Tampa Bay bullpen. The Rays then pulled it out a 4-3 win in the bottom of the 14th as Carlos Pena singled off Tom Wilhelmsen and scored on a Ben Zobrist double down the right field line.
The Rays had plenty of chances to score before then.
Josh Kinney walked Desmond Jennings to lead off the bottom of the 11th. Jennings then stole second, but Kinney rallied with a strikeout, a flyout and a groundout.
Brandon League had walked B.J. Upton to lead off the 10th. Upton also stole second with nobody out but Kinney eventually got Hideki Matsui to fly out to left with the bases loaded.
Carlos Peguero was the only thing with a bat keeping Seattle in the game at that point. Peguero launched a 429-foot rocket into the right-center bleachers in the seventh inning off Shields with a runner aboard to give Seattle a 3-2 lead.
But Steve Delabar couldn’t hold the advantage in the bottom of the frame.
Hisashi Iwakuma turned in his best outing of the season thus far, really keeping the Rays on their heels by changing speeds and location.
He had great bite to some of his breaking pitches that had been lacking earlier on this season.
In short, a different pitcher. Much better than even his last two outings and it showed in the K/BB ratio of 7/1. Unfortunately, he’s still vulnerable to the long ball, as we saw when B.J. Upton went deep in the sixth to tie it 1-1.
The Rays got another run off Iwakuma that inning — aided by that double that seemed to sail clear on through Peguero’s outstretched glove — but was in a position to win the game before the Rays got to Delabar.