'Unacceptable' fifth inning sinks Ray, Mariners

May 1st, 2022

MIAMI -- After his team lost its previous three games, Mariners manager Scott Servais smiled when talking about Robbie Ray taking the mound Saturday night against the Marlins.

“I always feel good when he’s out there,” said Servais in his pregame media session.

For a while, it appeared that Ray would help snap the Mariners' losing streak. Then came a fifth inning in which the Marlins scored three runs and chased Ray from the game, one Miami held on to win 3-1 at loanDepot park.

“They were able to put an inning together,” Servais said, “and we were not.”

Seattle will enter Sunday's series finale riding a four-game losing streak -- its second such slide since the season started.

Ray (2-2) was one of just three pitchers to go at least six innings in his first four starts this season, and on Saturday night, he was absolutely cruising through his first four.

After striking out three in the first, Ray struck out two more Marlins to start the second. In his first four innings, he had allowed one hit, had struck out six and had thrown just 51 pitches.

“That was probably the best we had seen him at any point all season,’’ Servais explained. “His stuff was really crisp.”

The Mariners also held a 1-0 lead, courtesy of Dylan Moore’s home run into left field that opened the third inning. Miami’s bats then came alive in the fifth.

Brian Anderson got things started with a ground-rule double to deep left with Bryan De La Cruz tying the score on a sharp single through a drawn-in infield. A bloop single from Jon Berti gave Miami its first lead of the night. With two outs, Ray walked Jorge Soler to load the bases, then walked in a run to push the Marlins' lead to 3-1.

Ray ended things by striking out Avisaíl García -- the ninth batter Miami sent to the plate that inning. But that was the end of his night. After throwing 51 pitches in his first four innings, it took Ray 36 to get out of the fifth, and after walking just eight in his first four starts, he walked four on Saturday -- including three in the fifth inning alone.

“I felt really good,” Ray said. “The ball felt like it was coming out really good, the fastball was good, slider was good. It was definitely the best I have felt all year.”

The leadoff double, Ray admitted, sort of rattled him. Then frustration set in as the Marlins continued to extend at-bats in the decisive inning.

“I think I just lost a little bit of focus,” Ray said. “After the double, then getting the out, guy goes to third. Felt like I made a pretty good pitch on the [De La Cruz] grounder and came up short and lost a little bit of focus there. It was self-inflicted from there on. … It was unacceptable. I have to be better.”

Seattle’s offense certainly did not help things. With two outs in the first, Jesse Winker singled then went to second when Eugenio Suárez walked.

That was the only other time that the Mariners put a runner in scoring position before Winker went to third with two outs in the ninth on J.P. Crawford’s single to right. Winker did not get any further as Luis Torrens struck out to end the game.

Servais gave a tip of the cap to Marlins starter Jesús Luzardo, who surrendered one run on two hits in his six innings of work, striking out five.

“The Marlins have really good pitching, and we knew that coming into the series,’’ Servais said. “Their pitching is outstanding. … It was back-and-forth, a real duel there for about four innings and they just got the better of us in the fifth.’’