By MARC TOPKIN
© St. Petersburg Times, published August 4, 1999
SEATTLE -- With no clue where John Mabry's seemingly routine fly ball was about to land, Devil Rays leftfielder Bubba Trammell threw up his arms in bewilderment during the fifth inning Tuesday.
The symbolism was hard to ignore.
Beaten and battered, the Devil Rays continued their wayward journey Tuesday, losing 5-2 to the Mariners before an announced 37,180 at chilly Safeco Field.
Trammell's fifth-inning miscue was a contributing factor, but hardly the sole reason for what became the Rays' fifth straight loss and 16th in the past 20 games.
"I had no chance," Trammell said. "It would have taken Superman to see that ball. It was white up there. It was like looking for a ball in a sheet."
The home runs Ryan Rupe gave up on consecutive pitches to Ken Griffey and Alex Rodriguez earlier in the fifth played a big part, as did another unproductive evening by Tampa Bay's hitters. The Rays have scored 10 runs, six in one game, in losing the first five games of the road trip.
"Ryan Rupe's fine," manager Larry Rothschild said. "If we ever play defense behind him or get him some runs he might be Rookie of the Year. We've done a very poor job for him. He's pitched as good as any young pitcher in this league, and it's a damm shame."
The Mariners won their sixth in a row and John Halama his ninth straight as the Rays fell to a major-league worst 3-16 against left-handed starters.
Once again, Wade Boggs provided the only positive development, singling in his first at-bat to move within four hits of the 3,000 milestone. But even Boggs' success was tainted: He was doubled off first and made a throwing error that led to a Seattle run.
"Just keep pecking away," Boggs said.
The Rays struck for a run in the opening inning, the first time they'd led since Wednesday's 4-1 win over Anaheim at Tropicana Field.
After a one-out walk to Dave Martinez, Tony Graffanino -- or Graffanin as the Safeco Field scoreboard identified him -- crushed a double that carried over fleet centerfielder Griffey.
The Mariners tied the score with an unearned run in the fourth, Rodriguez reaching on Boggs' throwing error and scoring on Mabry's single to right.
Rodriguez bounced a ball down the third-base line that Boggs gloved and threw on the run. The ball arrived at first about the same time Rodriguez did and sailed past the base, with Rodriguez advancing to second and then scoring on Mabry's single.
The Rays grabbed the lead in the fifth, cobbling a run out of two walks, a long flyout and a run-scoring single by Terrell Lowery.
The Mariners lead the majors in home runs, and the Rays felt their wrath during a brief flurry in the fifth that put Seattle on top for the first time.
Griffey drilled the first pitch he saw over the rightfield wall, and Rodriguez deposited the next pitch into an adjacent area, the third time they've hit back-to-back homers this season and the eighth in their storied careers.
"Griffey hit a pretty good pitch, he had to be guessing," Rothschild said. "He hit a changeup and it looked like he went down and got it.
"I was surprised the ball Rodriguez hit went out. I didn't think he hit it that good, but I guess he doesn't have to."
Said Rupe: "I have no idea how he hit that ball out of the park."
Rupe then walked Martinez but struck out Buhner and was one strike from getting out of the inning when Mabry reached for a 1-and-2 pitch and lofted a routine fly to left that Trammell lost against a threatening sky, allowing Martinez to score from first and extend the Seattle lead to 4-2.
Coming off an impressive outing against Anaheim (one run and six hits in eight innings), Rupe needed 100 pitches to complete five innings, having allowed six hits, walking three and hitting a batter.
The Rays came within six inches of tying the score in the seventh. They had the bases loaded on two walks and a double and Halama out of the game when Martinez lined a full-count pitch from Paul Abbott just wide of the leftfield line. Abbott came back to strike out Martinez looking.
The Rays loaded the bases with one out in the ninth on three straight singles, but Jose Mesa struck out Lowery and got Martinez to fly to center.