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Motter, Bergman lead Mariners past Rays

June 2, 2017

SEATTLE -- Injuries have been an issue over the first two months for the Mariners, but Seattle put the hurt on Rays right-hander Jake Odorizzi early Friday and rolled to a 12-4 series-opening victory at Safeco Field.A first-inning grand slam by Mariners shortstop Taylor Motter and a three-run blast by

SEATTLE -- Injuries have been an issue over the first two months for the Mariners, but Seattle put the hurt on Rays right-hander Jake Odorizzi early Friday and rolled to a 12-4 series-opening victory at Safeco Field.
A first-inning grand slam by Mariners shortstop Taylor Motter and a three-run blast by first baseman Danny Valencia in the third propelled Seattle to an 8-0 lead and spelled an early exit for Odorizzi, who gave up only four hits in his 2 1/3 innings, but was hurt by three walks, a critical error and the two long balls.
"Not in any situation do you want to see a starting pitcher throw 48 pitches in any inning, especially the first," Rays manager Kevin Cash said of Odorizzi's rocky first frame. "I think it kind of derailed him. He gave everything he had and you kind of got the sense it gassed him. He wasn't really able to get back on track, but I don't know anyone that would."
Motter's first-inning slam ignites offense
The Rays, who lead the Majors in home runs, got back-to-back solo shots from Colby Rasmus and Timothy Beckham in the fourth inning, but that was all the damage done in six innings against Seattle right-hander Christian Bergman (3-2, 4.36 ERA).
Grand slams mean 40% off pizza
Kevin Kiermaier ripped a two-run homer in the seventh off Seattle reliever James Pazos to cut the margin to 8-4, but Seattle settled the issue by answering with four runs in the bottom of that frame. Kiermeier was 3-for-4 with a double and home run, but the Rays fell to 4-3 on their current road trip and 29-28 overall.
Kiermaier settling into offensive groove
Valencia went 3-for-3 with a home run and double and equaled his career high with five RBIs as Seattle (26-30) won for the fifth time in its past six games and is now 15-10 at Safeco.

"Outstanding offensive night," said Mariners manager Scott Servais. "The two young guys at the top of the lineup got it going and we got the big hit out of Motter, which we needed there early on. And Valencia, after a really slow start to the season, really picked it up in May and is continuing it right on in June. Everybody contributing, that's what it takes."
A favor for his former team: While Motter relished hitting a grand slam against the club that traded him to Seattle in November, it was a former Mariner who opened the door for the five-run first off Odorizzi. Second baseman Brad Miller, who played his first three years with Seattle from 2013-15, booted a ground ball by Guillermo Heredia to put two on and no out in the first. Odorizzi then walked Robinson Cano and Valencia to force in a run before Motter's two-out blast. Thus all five runs were unearned. Miller was playing his first game after spending two weeks on the disabled list with an abdominal strain.

"That was definitely something to remember there, especially against them," Motter said. "They got rid of me to come here and to do it against them means more than anything. They gave me my chance in baseball, but I'm going to succeed somewhere else and I'm going to show them that."
Bergman rolls again: The 29-year-old righty has been a find for Seattle as a fill-in starter for its short-handed rotation. He followed up seven scoreless innings at Fenway with six strong frames against the Rays and finished off his outing in the sixth with a key strikeout of Derek Norris on a 76-mph curve with runners on second and third to preserve his 8-2 lead.
"That's huge when they come out and score," Bergman said of having the early lead to work with from the first inning on. "That allows me to just go out and focus on making pitches, stay ahead in the count and just go after them."

"He might be the Wade LeBlanc of our team this year." -- Servais on Bergman, referring to last year's midseason pickup who filled a big role as well
Infielder Tyler Smith got called up by the Mariners from Triple-A Tacoma on Friday to fill the roster spot created by shortstop Jean Segura going on the 10-day disabled list with a high ankle sprain and the 25-year-old Oregon State graduate made his Major League debut when he replaced Cano at second base with a 12-4 lead in the eighth. Smith wasted no time collecting his first big league hit, as he ripped a double into left off Ryne Stanek, slapping his hands together as he slid into second with a nice ovation from the crowd of 27,933.
"The emotions, I can't even describe," said Smith. "I've been working my whole life to get to this point. I wouldn't have guessed I'd get my first hit in that first at-bat. Just get it out of the way and it definitely was a big sigh of relief just from grinding through the Minors, through college ball. I didn't know I'd get here and it's a great feeling."

Rays third baseman Evan Longoria was taken out of the game in the bottom of the seventh with a stiff neck. Longoria went 1-for-4 with a single before being replaced by Daniel Robertson. More >>
Rays: Right-hander Alex Cobb takes the bump for the Rays on Saturday at 10:10 p.m. ET. He boasts a 3-1 record in his last four decisions and a 2-3 mark and a 5.29 ERA in six career appearances against the Mariners.
Mariners: Rookie right-hander Sam Gaviglio (1-1, 3.50 ERA) makes his fourth start for Seattle's short-handed rotation in Saturday's 7:10 p.m. PT game against the Rays. The 27-year-old notched his first big league win in his last outing when he allowed five runs on six hits over five frames at Colorado.
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Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for since 2011. Follow him on Twitter [

@GregJohnsMLB]() and listen to his podcast.

Josh Horton is a reporter for based in Seattle. He covered the Rays on Friday.