June 14, 2016: Evan Longoria’s homer lifts Rays to comeback victory; Ryan Garton earns only big-league win

This article was written by Bill Hickman

LongoriaEvanOn Flag Day, June 14, 2016, the Tampa Bay Rays were scrambling to reach the .500 mark, and the Seattle Mariners were waging a fairly successful season with a 34-29 record in second place in the American League West Division. It was the opener of a three-game series at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. The Tampa Bay area population had not been impressed, however, as the attendance for this game was only 11,455, just over a thousand above the season’s lowest.1

The starting pitchers were Taijuan Walker for the visiting Mariners and Jake Odorizzi for the Rays. Going into the game, Walker stood at 3-6 with a 3.48 ERA and Odorizzi was 3-3 with a 3.47 ERA. Despite the won-lost records, the ERAs suggest that these two hurlers were evenly matched.

The first inning started the game unremarkably. In the second, the Mariners jumped to a four-run lead. Half of those four runs scored quickly. Nelson Cruz led off with a double. Kyle Seager followed with a two-run homer. After Adam Lind grounded out, catcher Chris Iannetta walked. Then left fielder Nori Aoki singled and Iannetta went to second. Center fielder Leonys Martin slammed a double to right field, driving in both Iannetta and Aoki. Martin tried to steal third, but was caught, and that ended the Mariners’ half of the inning.

In the bottom of the second, Logan Morrison led off and was called out on strikes. DH Steve Pearce got onto base when Mariners shortstop Ketel Marte bobbled his grounder. Left fielder Corey Dickerson blasted a homer that drove in Pearce and cut the lead in half. Dickerson’s homer traveled 448 feet to right field and hit the lower catwalk. “I just tried to put a short swing on it and square the ball up,” Dickerson said. “Not do too much.”2 The Rays were relatively quiet for the rest of the inning.

In the top of the third, the Mariners widened their lead. Left fielder Seth Smith started it by lining a double. Robinson Canó fanned, but Cruz singled to score Smith. That took care of the Mariners’ action for that inning and left them ahead, 5-2.

In the bottom of the fourth, the Rays made some noise again. After Morrison popped up to second base, Pearce yanked one to left field out of the yard. Then Dickerson, still feasting on Mariners pitching, including a grand slam off Walker earlier in the season, launched a triple. Walker had thrown his final pitch of the game as he departed with an injury. It was later explained to be posterior tibial tendinitis, which is an “inflammation of the tendon that attaches the calf muscle to the bones on the inside of the foot.”3

Walker’s replacement from the bullpen was Edwin Díaz. While Díaz faced his first batter, Steven Souza, Mariners catcher Iannetta committed his third passed ball of the season.4 That allowed Dickerson to score, and narrowed the contest to 5-4. Souza singled, but the Rays did no further damage in the fourth.

The fifth inning featured only the defenses. For a rookie, Díaz had been pitching impressively.

The sixth inning did not see any scoring, but it was eventful. Rays’ hurler Odorizzi proceeded through the first two Mariners batters without any problem. Martin was up next. He walked on a ball that Odorizzi thought should have been called a strike. Jake’s protest was sufficiently animated that it caused home-plate umpire Jerry Meals to eject him from the game.5 Lefty Dana Eveland replaced Odorizzi and finished off the sixth.

The Mariners used the top of the seventh to pad their lead. Canó led off with a single to center. Cruz followed with another single, this one going to right field, and sending Canó only to second. Rays right fielder Souza had made a diving attempt to catch Cruz’s hit, and the result was an injury. Souza left the game with left hip soreness and was replaced by Taylor Motter.6 Seager walked, loading the bases. The Mariners gained a run when first baseman Lind hit a sacrifice fly to right, bringing in Cano and advancing Cruz to third.

Rays manager Kevin Cash decided to bring in rookie Ryan Garton at this point. It was the 26-year-old right-hander’s fifth major-league appearance, four years after the Rays had selected him from Florida Atlantic University in the 34th round of the June 2012 draft.  Seager stole second. Iannetta walked, so now the bases were loaded again. Garton got the next batter, Aoki, to hit an infield grounder, short to first. Aoki was out, for the second out of the inning, but Cruz scored and the other two runners moved up. The run was charged to Eveland. The next batter was Marte, who grounded out to finish the inning with the Mariners in front, 7-4.

The bottom of the seventh began with little hint of what was to follow. Rays center fielder Desmond Jennings led off and faced a newly-entered pitcher, Nick Vincent. Jennings flied out to right. Catcher Curt Casali singled to left. Second baseman Logan Forsythe struck out for the second out.

The situation still didn’t look promising for the Rays. But shortstop Brad Miller walked to place a second man on base. Then Evan Longoria stepped to the plate. Longoria was the Rays’ big bopper. The 30-year-old third baseman had already hit 220 homers in his career and 15 thus far in this season alone.

It was time for another big moment, and he drove one out of the park, tying the game. It was his seventh homer in his last 10 games.7 “Good hitter,” said Vincent. “I looked at the pitch. It was off the plate a little bit. In that situation, it’s got to be a curveball. Now I know. So in the future, he probably won’t get that pitch again.”8

Mike Montgomery replaced Vincent on the mound. The Rays’ rally continued with Morrison taking a base on balls, followed by Pearce’s doing the same. Dickerson drove in his third run of the game with a single, as Morrison scored; however, Dickerson tried to stretch the single into a double and was tagged out at second to end the inning with the Rays leading 8-7.

For the remainder of the game, it was the bullpens finishing it off. Xavier Cedeño pitched a one-two-three top of the eighth for the Rays. Steve Johnson yielded a pair of two-out singles for the Mariners in the bottom of the eighth, but otherwise had no problem. Alex Colomé entered the ninth as the closer for the Rays. He struck out the first batter and gave up a walk to the next. Then he induced a double play, and the game was over and he had earned his 19th save.

After the game Seattle manager Scott Servais commented: “We had a lot of opportunities to score more runs than we did. We didn’t take advantage of everything. We probably should have scored double digits tonight. That didn’t happen. Their guy hung in there, and that proved to be the difference.”9

The other side of the coin of the Mariners’ not taking advantage of opportunities (they were 3-for-14 with runners in scoring position) is that the Rays’ pitchers buckled down at the right moments.

One Rays pitcher who had made his moments count was Garton, who became the pitcher of record when Tampa Bay rallied in the seventh inning. His nine-pitch, five-out outing netted what turned out to be his only major-league win in 59 career games over three seasons with the Rays and Mariners.



This article was fact-checked by Bruce Slutsky and copy-edited by Len Levin. The author thanks John Fredland for his suggestions on the article.

Photo credit: Trading Card DB.



In addition to the sources cited in the Notes, the author consulted Baseball-Reference.com, Retrosheet.com, and Baseball-Almanac.com.





1 This game was occurring only two days after a mass shooting at the Pulse Night Club in Orlando, which is about 90 miles from Tampa. It’s possible that that was still casting a pall.

2 Bob Dutton, “Mariners Can’t Hold Big Leads Against Rays,” Olympia (Washington) Olympian, June 15, 2016: B3.

3 Dutton.

4 Dutton.

5 “Longoria, Dickerson Lead Rays’ Comeback,” Bradenton (Florida) Herald, June 15, 2016: B3.

6 “Longoria, Dickerson Lead Rays’ Comeback.”

7 Fort Myers News Press, June 15, 2016: Z5.

8 Dutton.

9 Dutton: B1. 

Additional Stats

Tampa Bay Rays 9
Seattle Mariners 7

Tropicana Field
St. Petersburg, FL


Box Score + PBP:

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