ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Seattle Mariners made a little mistake that led to a big inning for the Tampa Bay Rays.
Tampa Bay right-hander Alex Cobb pitched five strong innings in his first big league game since being hit in the head by a batted ball two months ago, and the Rays beat the Mariners, 7-1, on Thursday night.
The Rays broke open a tie game in the fifth with help from a botched popup.
Sam Fuld led off the fifth with a sharp line drive that barely missed the head of Mariners pitcher Joe Saunders and went for a single.
“I tipped it with my glove rather than my face,” said Saunders, “which is good.”
After that Sean Rodriguez, hit a popup behind second base that could have been caught easily by second baseman Nick Franklin or by shortstop Brad Miller. But the rookie infielders called each other off and it dropped for a hit.
“We both called for it,” Miller said. “We just kept going after it and we looked at each other. He broke on it pretty good and I looked and he was camped under it, and I was like: `Dang, why did I call it?’ And we both backed off.”
“We can talk about growing pains, and hopefully they’ll learn from it, but that ball’s got to be caught,” said acting manager Robby Thompson. “I think they both take the blame for it. Would it be different if that ball is caught? There’s a chance. It kind of snow-balled after that.”
Wil Myers followed with a two-run double and Evan Longoria quickly made it 5-1 with a two-run home run, his 23rd of the season.
“A half inning before we had the bases loaded and they struck a guy out, and it gave them the momentum,” Saunders said. “We gave it right back to them, and it was hard to recover from that. That was pretty much the turning point in the game.”