Seattle Mariners

Mariners 12, Rays 4: Motter slams his ex-teammates in blowout victory

Taylor Motter was all smiles after getting congratulations from Felix Hernandez and others following his grand slam in the first inning.
Taylor Motter was all smiles after getting congratulations from Felix Hernandez and others following his grand slam in the first inning. AP

This was better than Taylor Motter could have imagined. His first at-bat against his former club came with the bases loaded Friday night, and Motter cleared the left-field wall.

Grand slam.

Motter’s drive capped a five-run first inning that carried the Mariners to an 12-4 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays in the opener to a three-game series at Safeco Field.

"That was definitely something to remember right there," he admitted, "especially against them…They got rid of me to let me come here. To do it against them means more than anything.

"They gave me my chance in baseball, but I’m going to succeed somewhere else. And I’m glad to show them that."

OK then…

There was much more than Motter, though.

Danny Valencia matched a career high with five RBIs, including a three-run homer in the third inning that pushed the lead to 8-0 and knocked out Rays starter Jake Odorizzi.

Reunions were less pleasant for some ex-Mariners returning to the Northwest.

Second baseman Brad Miller had two costly misplays that led to eight runs. Reliever Danny Farquhar gave up four runs in his only inning. And first baseman Logan Morrison was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts.

The Mariners won for the fifth time in six games while scoring 41 runs in that span — quite a turnaround after a 1-7 skid in which they scored just nine times.

"An outstanding offensive night," manager Scott Servais said. "The two young guys (Ben Gamel and Guillermo Heredia) at the top of the lineup got it going."

Motter started Friday at shortstop because the Mariners put Jean Segura on the disabled list earlier in the day because of a high ankle sprain. The early expectation is Segura could miss a month.

"Here, I’m getting a lot of opportunities with some guys going down," Motter said. "I wish everyone health, and I hope Segura gets back soon. But to get an opportunity to do that against this team is meaningful."

The five-run first inning and Valencia’s three-run homer provided Christian Bergman with an 8-0 lead.

"It allowed me to just go out and focus on making pitches," Bergman said, "staying ahead in the count and just going after them."

Bergman hiccuped with two outs in the fourth inning, when he gave up back-to-back homers, but otherwise held the Rays in check for six innings. He gave up seven hits, struck out six and walked two.

James Pazos inherited an 8-2 lead to start the seventh inning and quickly found trouble. Corey Dickerson led off with a single, and Kevin Kiermaier followed with a two-run homer.

The Mariners answered later in the inning with four runs against Farquhar, although it would have been one if Miller converts Dyson’s bases-load grounder into a double play.

The lead was 12-4.

Miller’s error in the first inning helped the Mariners load the bases with no outs. Even so, Odorizzi (3-3) nearly pitched out of the jam when he struck out Nelson Cruz and retired Kyle Seager on a liner to first.

A walk to Valencia forced in a run before Odorizzi hung an 0-2 curve to Motter. That quickly, it was 5-0.

"I’ve been missing pitches," Motter said, "and I’m not happy about it. But I didn’t miss that one."

PLAY(S) OF THE GAME: A misplay by Tampa Bay second baseman Brad Miller in the first inning led to five unearned runs.

Miller later whiffed on Jarrod Dyson’s potential double-play grounder in the seventh inning. That was scored a single, but it resulted in three more soft runs.

PLUS: Infielder Tyler Smith made his major-league debut when he replaced Robinson Cano at second base to start the eighth inning. Smith lined a double to left in his first at-bat…Valencia went 3-for-3 with a walk and is batting .314 (33-for-105) with 20 RBIs in his last 27 games…Gamel went 2-for-5 and has multiple hits in 13 of his 33 games.

MINUS: Pazos had allowed just one run in his previous 11 games before giving up Kiermaier’s two-run homer in the seventh…Seager was hitless in five at-bats and left nine men on base.

STAT PACK: The Mariners have hit two grand slams this season. Both by Motter. His other one came April 23 in an 11-1 victory at Oakland.

QUOTABLE: Asked about his patience in drawing a two-out walk with the bases loaded in the first inning, Valencia said: "It’s part of just having a good approach up there. Stay within yourself and not try to do too much.

"When the bases are loaded, I don’t think anybody goes up there trying to hit a grand slam. Really, you just want to get one (run) in. That kept me from chasing the pitches up."

Reminded that Motter followed with a grand slam, Valencia said: "Motter can do it all."

SHORT HOPS: Motter is the 28th different player in Mariners history to hit multiple grand slams in a season. The last to do it was Seth Smith a year ago…Rays third baseman Evan Longoria left the game in seventh inning because of stiffness in his neck.

ON DECK: The Mariners and Rays continue their three-game series at 7:10 p.m. Saturday at Safeco Field. Right-hander Sam Gaviglio (1-1 with a 3.50 ERA) will oppose Tampa Bay right-hander Alex Cobb (4-4, 3.67).

The first 20,000 fans through the gates will receive a Nelson Cruz bobblehead doll, courtesy of Root Sports.

The game can be seen on Root Sports Northwest and heard on 710 ESPN and the Mariners Radio Network.

Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners