ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays ran into the final out at home plate on Sunday afternoon in a 5-4 loss to the Mariners in the series finale at Tropicana Field.Facing Seattle closer Edwin Diaz, Johnny Field reached on an infield single to put the tying run aboard with one out.
ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays ran into the final out at home plate on Sunday afternoon in a 5-4 loss to the Mariners in the series finale at Tropicana Field.
Facing Seattle closer Edwin Diaz, Johnny Field reached on an infield single to put the tying run aboard with one out. Pinch-hitter Carlos Gomez blooped a single into shallow left that dropped in between defenders. Field tried to come around to score on the play, but was thrown out easily by Mitch Haniger to end the game and hand the Rays another one-run loss.
"It was over-aggressive," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "A lot of guys are trying to do a lot right now to impact us in a positive way. It was his judgement. I think he recognized it and thought he could beat a throw -- if it took a perfect throw."
One-run games have plagued the Rays this season. The Rays have had 26 games decided by one run this season, second in the Majors to Seattle (30). The Rays have lost 17 of those games, including five to the Mariners, the most in the league.
The Rays looked like they might break through against Seattle starter James Paxton in the third after Field slapped a ground-rule double down the left-field line and was brought in on an RBI groundout by Mallex Smith. Leading off the bottom of the fourth, C.J. Cron lined the first pitch of the inning -- a 94--MPH four-seamer from Paxton -- over the wall in straightaway center for his team-leading 15th home run of the season. Cron has just three hits in his last 24 at-bats -- all of which have left the yard.
Matt Duffy kept things going with a double down the left-field line, and would come around to score on an opposite-field double by Jake Bauers.
"We knew we had a pretty big challenge facing Paxton, who has been so good all year," Cash said. "We did a really good job of getting out to the early lead."
Rays starter Nathan Eovaldi made his debut at The Trop and matched up well against Paxton until running out of steam in the sixth, when Mike Zunino's two-run shot to left field ended his night.
"That slider kind of backed up on me," Eovaldi said. "It was right in his wheelhouse to do some damage, and he did."
Before that, the only blemish on Eovaldi came after Nelson Cruz homered for a second straight night, a solo blast on a 1-1 fastball to the lead off the top of the second. The only other hit Eovaldi allowed up until that point came on a bunt single in the fifth by former Rays outfielder Denard Span, which was quickly erased with a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning. Eovaldi finished his afternoon with three strikeouts and no walks in his five-plus innings.
Wilson Ramos pulled the Rays within one in the bottom of the eighth with an RBI single up the middle against Alex Colome, the former Rays closer who was traded to Seattle last month.
"The losses are piling up right now, so it is difficult, especially if we feel we put ourselves in a good spot to win a game when you play pretty clean baseball," Cash said of the team's ninth loss in their last 10 games. "You've got to find ways to win those games. We can play better baseball than what we did over the last 10 days."
Shortstop Daniel Robertson left Sunday's game against the Mariners with an apparent hamstring injury. Robertson felt discomfort while playing defense in the first inning, and was removed as a precautionary measure after legging out a groundout to the second baseman in his first at-bat. He was replaced in the field by Joey Wendle.
"It just didn't feel right, so I decided, rather than be out four-to-six weeks, it would be a day-to-day thing," Robertson said. "I've never had discomfort in my hamstrings, so it was new to me. Trying to be smart about it."
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Seattle took the lead after Rays reliever Jose Alvarado started the seventh with seven straight balls out of the strike zone, putting a man aboard and Kyle Seager in a prime hitter's count. Seager jumped on an inside fastball, which he deposited into the right-field seats to make it 5-3.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
With one out in the top of the third, Seattle's Ben Gamel lifted a line drive toward the gap in left-center. Left fielder Rob Refsnyder, shading toward the line, was able to track the ball down and make the diving catch.
HE SAID IT
"Everything is magnified. That's the way the game ended, so it's super magnified but I take responsibility for that call. It didn't turn out to be the right one." -- Rays third-base coach Matt Quatraro, on the final play
The Rays will welcome the Blue Jays for a three-game set at Tropicana Field on Monday at 7:10 p.m. ET. This will be the fourth of 19 games against their American League East rivals. Lefty Ryan Yarbrough (4-2, 3.68 ERA) will start in a "bullpen day." He will be opposed by righty Sam Gaviglio (2-1, 2.51).
** J. Scott Butherus ** is a contributor to MLB.com based in St. Petersburg.