SEATTLE (AP) — Joe Maddon is concerned about the Tampa Bay Rays offense and their inability to make up for a poor night by the pitchers.
"Effort is good. Preparation is good. We're just unable to get the hit when you need to," Maddon said. "I know we gave up six runs, but sometimes you've got to score seven, you've got to score eight. We're still unable to really put an offense together."
Seattle's James Paxton threw six strong innings, allowing just one earned run in his major league debut, Justin Smoak and Kendrys Morales hit solo homers and the Mariners continued Tampa Bay on their West Coast slide with a 6-2 win over the Rays on Saturday night.
Tampa Bay lost for the seventh time in nine games on its swing through Seattle, Oakland and Los Angeles and saw its lead in the AL wild-card race reduced to one game after both Cleveland and Baltimore won on Saturday.
The Rays have spent 61 straight days in position for a postseason berth, but if they can't avoid a sweep by the Mariners on Sunday, that run might finally end.
"Just staying after it. These are those kind of moments that if you do quit on yourself then it goes away," Maddon said. "But we'll continue to fight through it and all of a sudden you'll come out on the other side. It's truly that simple and difficult at the same time."
Paxton (1-0) became the latest Seattle prospect to make a successful debut, joining Taijuan Walker. Paxton shut out the Rays for five innings and his only mistake was giving up a two-run homer to Evan Longoria in the sixth.
Paxton became the third Seattle pitcher in club history to throw at least six innings and allow one earned run or fewer in his major league debut. He struck out three and walked one. He also pitched just hours after getting word that his grandfather, Lawrie, had died.
"That wasn't easy. A very close family and he was kind of the glue," Paxton said "So it was great my family could make it down here tonight to watch me pitch and I know he was up there watching also."
Tampa Bay had a chance to cut into the deficit in the seventh after reliever Tom Wilhelmsen started the inning with consecutive walks and a wild pitch to put runners at second and third with no outs. He got a shallow fly ball to right from Yunel Escobar for the first out and the runners had to hold.
Desmond Jennings popped out to shortstop for the second out and Ben Zobrist flew out to deep right-center to end the threat.