Tampa Bay got on the board in the seventh to cut the Seattle lead to 2-1, with help from a poor throw by Ichiro in right field. Jason Vargas gave up a single to Desmond Jennings, then a flared single to right by Jose Lobaton that sent the speedy Jennings to third.
Ichiro appeared to have no shot at the runner but threw to third anyway and not with much accuracy. The ball missed the cutoff man and bounced by third baseman Kyle Seager to score the run and move the tying run into scoring position.
Vargas left the game at that point, but Shawn Kelley came on and did the job. Kelley made a great fielding play to throw out Sean Rodriguez on a bunt that moved the lead runner to third. Kelley then got B.J. Upton to pop out foul to third base for a key second out.
Oliver Perez then came in and fanned Carlos Pena to end the threat.
Both teams just got through a speedy 1-2-3 eighth, so it’s on to the ninth we go.
5:50 p.m.: We’ve played five innings and Jason Vargas and the Mariners still have the same 2-0 lead they had one inning in.
Vargas has done a good job of scattering four hits while striking out five batters. Meanwhile, Rays reliever Cesar Ramos is on fire, having allowed just one hit while striking out six batters over three innings of work since taking over for Alex Cobb.
Cobb left the game with a contusion on his lower right leg after being hit by a hard comebacker on a play that ended the second inning.
The M’s struck out five times in a row at one point against Ramos. They have struck out nine times tonight already and 26 times over the 19 innings played this series.
4:35 p.m.: Once again, as they have this entire trip, the Mariners have scored early and lead it 2-0 after an inning of play. Alex Cobb retired the first two batters, then walked Casper Wells, gave up a single to John Jaso and walked Kyle Seager to load the bases. Michael Saunders got a tough checked-swing call to fall behind 1-2, then worked the count even before taking a Cobb pitch the other way to left field for a two-run single.
Cobb wound up throwing 37 pitches in the inning. which is huge, because the Rays — like the Mariners — saw their bullpen heavily taxed last night.
4:07 p.m.: Jason Vargas takes the mound tonight and that can only mean one thing: a battle as to whether he can keep the ball in the park.
Vargas has allowed 25 home run this season, 19 of them on the road.
So, keep it in the park, he’ll buy his own team time to score. If the Rays start hitting it out, then fuggedabouit.