Nelson Cruz didn’t quite know what to make of his 30th home run, which put a charge into the ninth inning of the Seattle Mariners’ 7-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday.
The distance of the solo blast into the upper deck was measured by MLB Statcast as 482 feet, which makes it the longest ever measured at Tropicana Field.
“Cool. Do they give a prize for that?” asked Cruz, who also had two doubles and scored three runs for the Mariners in the first game of a 12-game trip.
MLB Statcast has been measuring home runs only in the last three seasons. Some players doubt the validity of the measurements, and some of the Mariners had doubts whether it was even Cruz’s longest homer. But catcher Mike Zunino, who had two doubles and drove in two runs, said “you could have told me 500 (feet) and I would have believed it.”
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Cruz acknowledged that he “squared it up pretty good, yeah.”
Erasmo Ramirez won his first game for the Mariners since April 1, 2014.
Ramirez, who was traded back to the Mariners on July 28 after pitching 2 1/2 seasons with the Rays, gave up one run and two hits in six innings, leaving the game with a 6-1 lead.
“It feels weird because it’s no more than a month, but … we have to fight for the playoffs, so I cannot just come in here and give up,” Ramirez (5-4) said. “I have a lot of friends on the other side, but at the same time it’s a game and I have to play for my team at this moment.”
Hits by Robinson Cano, Cruz, Danny Valencia and Ben Gamel helped the Mariners score three runs in the first off Rays starter Austin Pruitt. Back-to-back doubles by Guillermo Heredia and Zunino and a single by Jean Segura brought in two more runs and made it 5-0 in the third.
Cruz’s home run off reliever Brad Boxberger drove in Seattle’s final run in the ninth.
“It’s great when he gets hot because they’re not just singles, they’re doubles and homers,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said.
Pruitt (6-4) gave up six runs and 11 hits in seven innings, throwing 107 pitches in his sixth major-league start.