There’s a certain satisfaction in winning a breakup. Whether it’s a romantic breakup, a friend breakup, or a baseball player being traded away from a team, you always want to show the other party that you’re just fine--in fact, better--than you were with them.
Taylor Motter took this task seriously as he stepped up to the plate in the bottom of the first inning. He had watched the bases load up on a Ben Gamel single, a Brad Miller error, and a 10 pitch walk by Robinson Cano. In front of him, Nelson Cruz swung hard and grimaced as he went down on a high fastball. Kyle Seager followed with a line out to Logan Morrison. Danny Valencia, perhaps sensing Motter’s purpose, kept the inning alive with a walk to bring in a run. Motter didn’t want to give any former Mariners a chance to show him up. He pushed his recent struggles from his mind and focused on his current team, the team that wanted him.
He fouled off five pitches, and then found the pitch he was looking for: a 73 mph curveball on the outer half of the plate:
Those first inning runs would be all the Mariners needed to secure a victory. But the Mariners didn’t just want to beat the Rays. They wanted to show that their offensive prowess wasn’t dormant, that this team powered by role players stepping up when the stars succumbed to injury still worked. The hole may be deep, but we won’t be buried, they told us tonight.
Danny Valencia had a fantastic offensive night. He has nothing to prove against the Rays themselves, but he has certainly felt the need to prove himself to the Mariners. He went 3-for-3, finishing a triple short of the cycle, and drove in 5 of the Mariner’s 12 runs. Here’s his 3-run home run in the third inning:
Nelson Cruz, worrying us all when he took a pitch off his hand yesterday, had two hits after striking out in the first. Ben Gamel, trying to pry some attention from his Hair Brother, also had two hits tonight.
Christian Bergman had another solid outing. He went 6 innings and gave up 2 runs to earn the Quality Start. The runs came on back to back home runs to Colby Rasmus and/or his eye black and Tim Beckham. He struck out 6 and walked 2, and most importantly, was able to limit the bullpen to three innings of work.
James Pazos pitched the 7th inning in relief of Bergman and wasn’t his normal sharp self, yielding two more runs to the Rays. Dan Altavilla shut them down the final two innings, recording 3 strikeouts.
The game was never in doubt, a nice feeling any night. Doubly so when you want to show someone, in this case the Rays, that you got the better end of the deal.
- Jake Odorizzi had a rough start for the Rays, throwing 48 pitches in the first innings and only lasting 2.1 innings total. Whatever the opposite of a Maddux is, is what he threw.
- Tyler Smith made his Major League debut in the top of the 8th inning. To cap it off, he got his first hit in the bottom of the 8th:
- All of the Mariner’s 12 runs were driven in by the bottom half of the lineup. Valencia drove in 5 over the course of his night, Motter had 4 on his grand slam, Dyson drove in 2 on a single in the 7th, and Mike Zunino joined in the fun with a sacrifice fly to score the final run in the 7th.
- The Mariners debuted this fun gif featuring Marilyn Neihaus after Motter’s grand slam:
Dinner. Is. Served.@taylormotter7 with a shot into Edgar's and it's 5-0! pic.twitter.com/Bynl2CTKZb— Mariners (@Mariners) June 3, 2017
- In additional to Logan Morrison and Brad Miller, both of whom went hitless, former Mariner Danny Farquar made an appearance tonight. He gave up 4 runs.