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Hot Rays look to add to Mariners’ woes

The Tampa Bay Rays, winners of five straight to start a 10-game West Coast road swing, will look to clinch a four-game series Saturday night when they face the Seattle Mariners in the third matchup between the teams.

Manager Kevin Cash will call on 26-year-old Drew Rasmussen (2-1, 3.13 ERA), who joined the Rays on May 21, 2021, when he and fellow reliever J.P. Feyereisen were acquired from the Milwaukee Brewers for shortstop Willy Adames and pitcher Trevor Richards.

Rasmussen and Feyereisen — also having a breakout season with a 2-0 record and a 0.00 ERA in 13 innings — contributed greatly to Tampa Bay’s second consecutive American League East-winning campaign.

The right-handed Rasmussen went 4-0 with a 2.44 ERA in 20 appearances, with half starts and half relief outings after the trade last season.

Cash kept the native of Puyallup, Wash. — less than an hour south of Seattle — in the starter’s role entering 2022, a spot Rasmussen has excelled in.

Over five starts thus far, the Oregon State alum has been strong, giving up 15 hits in 23 innings, and his pitch count has built up to at least 79 in his past three appearances.

In two career outings (one start) against the Mariners, Rasmussen is 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA over 7 2/3 innings. He’s allowed two hits, walked one and struck out 13.

That lone start was April 27 as the Rays beat Seattle 3-2 in Tampa. In six innings, he yielded two hits, no runs and struck out nine against one walk.

“He’s itching to find a way to get deeper into ballgames,” Cash said. “Last year at the end of the year, he was incredibly efficient. The amount of (swing and) miss he created was a highlight for him.”

The Mariners and manager Scott Servais were frustrated by Friday’s stunning 8-7 loss, bringing their skid to five games.

The home club received a big night from Eugenio Suarez, who hit two homers and drove in three runs.

Slumping Jarred Kelenic, hitting just .127, provided a pinch-hit two-run homer in the eighth for a 6-5 lead to seemingly leave Seattle in good position with Paul Sewald coming in to close out a win.

However, Sewald — who had not allowed a baserunner in six appearances spanning six innings — allowed two singles followed by a three-run homer to pinch-hitter Manuel Margot, ultimately enough to send the Mariners to defeat again.

“A lot of really good things in that game tonight, but we’re disappointed it didn’t go our way at the end,” said Servais, whose club is 3-5 in one-run games. “I thought it was one of our better games offensively, probably since our last homestand.”

In the fifth inning, Seattle lost catcher Tom Murphy (dislocated shoulder) on an awkward catch-and-tag play at the plate.

On Saturday, Seattle’s Marco Gonzales (1-3, 4.05) will make his sixth start this season and has made that many against Tampa Bay in his career.

The left-hander is 3-1 with a 3.09 ERA against the Rays, with the opposition hitting .237 against him.

He started against the Rays and Rasmussen on April 27 but left the game after being struck on the left wrist by a 109 mph drive by Harold Ramirez just 11 pitches in.

–Field Level Media