The Tampa Bay Rays are in the midst of a playoff chase and cannot afford to lose games against inferior opponents.
The Rays look to even their three-game set against the Seattle Mariners Saturday at Safeco Field and bounce back from a tough loss in the series opener. They battled back to tie the game at 4-4 in the top of the eighth, but the Mariners went ahead for good with two runs in the home half.
Delmon Young homered and Jose Molina and Luke Scott added an RBI apiece for the Rays, losers in 10 of their last 13 games. Joel Peralta was dealt the loss for allowing two unearned runs and starter Alex Cobb gave up four runs in six innings.
"Working good at-bats has not been our problem. Getting guys on base has not been our problem, scoring them has been our problem. It is like having a bad red zone offense. We get close but just can't punch it through," Rays manager Joe Maddon said.
Tampa Bay is two games ahead of Baltimore and Cleveland for the final wild card berth in the American League and 2-6 on a 10-game road trip.
Chris Archer will handle pitching duties for the Rays Saturday and has lost three of his last five decisions. In Monday's 11-2 setback at the LA Angels, Archer was reached for five runs and nine hits in 3 2/3 innings. He had won his previous two starts and fell to 8-6 with a 3.14 ERA in 18 starts.
Archer lost his only career start against the Mariners on Aug. 13, when he gave up five runs in five innings of a 5-4 loss.
Seattle has won two of three games and five of its last nine after Friday's decision versus the Rays. Justin Smoak delivered a two-run double with two out in the bottom of the eighth for the Mariners.
"It feels good, especially in a 4-4 game with guys on base. It is always a good feeling to help out the team," Smoak said.
Kyle Seager knocked in two runs, while Raul Ibanez belted a solo homer and Franklin Gutierrez went 2-for-4 with an RBI single. Carter Capps picked up the win in relief and starter Hisashi Iwakuma lasted 5 2/3 innings, allowing three runs and eight hits in the no-decision.
The Mariners will roll the dice with James Paxton Saturday and he will make his major league debut. Paxton went 8-11 with a 4.45 ERA for Triple-A Tacoma and was Seattle's fourth-round pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft. The left-hander has a strong fastball and mixes it up with a cutter, curveball and changeup.
"I'm excited, excited to watch him," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "I know he's excited to pitch, as well he should be. It's always fun to watch a debut, especially when it's a starting pitcher."
Tampa Bay recently took two of three matchups with Seattle from Aug. 13-15 at Tropicana Field.