The Tampa Bay Rays flew west to begin their 10-game road trip after one of the most thrilling wins in franchise history, a game in which they scored six runs in the ninth inning and won on a walk-off home run.
Nine innings later, the Rays were reminded what it feels like to be on the wrong side of a game-ending homer.
Tampa Bay will look to rebound from its second loss in nine games Friday night when it continues a four-game series with the Seattle Mariners.
The Rays (68-46) trailed 7-4 in the ninth against Cleveland on Wednesday but scored six runs without making an out, as Carlos Pena gave his team a 10-7 victory with a three-run, walk-off homer.
The high from that win didn’t last much longer than the Rays’ cross country trek to Seattle, though. Tampa Bay carried a 1-0 lead into the eighth Thursday, but the Mariners (45-70) tied it before red-hot Raul Ibanez’s walk-off shot gave Seattle a 2-1 victory.
“Part of the (pregame) meeting was, ‘Don’t let this guy beat you,” said reliever Dan Wheeler, who gave up the homer. “It stinks right now, it definitely does, but the sun will come up tomorrow.”
Ibanez, who many thought would be dealt to a contender at the trade deadline, has been baseball’s best hitter over the last week. The left fielder is batting .480 (12-for-25) with three homers and 16 RBIs in his last six games.
“Right now, the big situations are finding Raul - and he’s delivering,” Seattle closer J.J. Putz said.
Ibanez and the Mariners had a tough time for 7 1-3 innings against Rays starter Andy Sonnanstine on Thursday, and they could have more trouble against James Shields (9-7, 3.63 ERA) on Friday. Ibanez is 0-for-8 in his career against the right-hander.
Shields hasn’t faced the Mariners this season, but he has a 1.57 ERA in three career starts against them and went eight innings both times he pitched at Safeco Field.
As well as Shields has pitched at home this season, however, he hasn’t been the same away from St. Petersburg. He’s 7-1 with a 2.21 ERA at Tropicana Field, but 2-6 with a 5.93 ERA on the road, where Tampa Bay has lost seven of his 10 starts.
Shields’ latest start came at home, where the Rays are 12-1 in games he’s pitched. He gave up two runs over 6 1-3 innings of Sunday’s 6-5, 10-inning Tampa Bay win over Detroit.
The Mariners have the AL’s worst record, but they’ve won four of five thanks in large part to Ibanez and center fielder Jeremy Reed, who’s hitting .414 (12-for-29) with six RBIs over his last eight games.
Seattle will try to make it four wins in five tries against Tampa Bay when it sends Carlos Silva (4-12, 5.92) to the mound. Silva signed a four-year, $48 million contract in December but has been a major disappointment for the Mariners so far, posting the third-highest ERA of any pitcher in baseball with at least 19 starts.
Silva gave up four runs and nine hits over 6 2-3 innings Sunday against Baltimore, not getting the decision in the Mariners’ 8-4 win.
He’s 1-0 with a 0.92 ERA in his last three starts versus Tampa Bay, none of which came this season.
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