MLB Game Preview: Seattle Mariners vs. Tampa Bay Rays - Date: 8/20/2017 Cruz leading Mariners' hot bats against Rays 19m ago• 2 min read ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Seattle's hot bats continue to keep them in the thick of the American League wild-card race, with Nelson Cruz leading the way."We are riding the boomstick right now," manager Scott Servais said after Cruz hit a two-run home run that proved the winning margin in a 7-6 win over the Tampa Bay Rays.A night earlier, Cruz crushed a 482-foot home run that is the longest recorded ever at Tropicana Field. On Saturday, his home run was initially ruled a double, but replay showed that it cleared the fence and bounced back into play off a railing."They all count," joked Servais, who has seen Cruz hit 11 home runs since July 30, matching the most in the major leagues. "It hit just far enough. Nelly is hot, he's swinging the bat great and everybody else is contributing as well." The Mariners have won four straight games, including two against the Rays, who found their bats Saturday, scoring six runs after totaling nine in their previous 10 home games. Good Return on Investment. Tampa Bay can gain confidence from their three home runs Saturday and a late rally that fell a run short, but each loss takes them farther out of postseason contention."The bats finally came alive," manager Kevin Cash said. "To me, that's the story of the game. We lost, and it stinks, but we needed to see some type of production, some type of positive performance from the offense, and I think we provided that." The Rays have lost eight of nine and 12 of 15, and they'll hope to rally Sunday around left-hander Blake Snell, whose last start was his first win in 16 starts this season. Snell is 1-6 with a 4.78 ERA, and his win Tuesday wasn't his sharpest outing, allowing seven hits and four runs in six innings. Snell faced Seattle in his second major league start in June 2016, lasting only 3 1/3 innings and giving up eight hits, though four of the five runs he allowed were unearned.The Mariners counter with righty Yovani Gallardo, who has struggled even more, with a 5-8 record and 5.84 ERA, highest among Seattle's starting rotation. He's been bounced to the bullpen and back to the rotation -- his numbers against the Rays aren't bad, with a 3-2 career record with a 4.71 ERA in seven starts. He's sharper still at Tropicana Field, with a 2-1 record and 2.82 ERA in four starts there.The Rays' six runs Saturday were their most in any home game since June 23, but it coincided with a rare off-night on the mound. Sports Handicapper Leads. They'll try to take the positive aspect of Saturday's loss with the hopes of more of the same Sunday."Tonight we hit a speed bump, but we will bounce back and overcome it," Cash said. "I think the most important part is that the offense put together an inning, put together some good at-bats and ultimately, put some runs on the board."
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