The Seattle Mariners came into Toronto red-hot, coming off a sweep of the Tigers in Detroit. The Blue Jays were cold, having ended a seven-game road trip by losing three straight to Baltimore. Fortunes can switch quickly. Seattle rallied to win Friday night in extra innings, but the Mariners lost the last two games of the series to the Blue Jays being outscored 14-2. The losses sent the Mariners to back under .500 at 11-12. The Mariners remained tied for second place in the A.L. West with Oakland, looking up at the Texas Rangers, who are a major league best 16-5 going into tonight’s game with Tampa.
Good News: The Mariners displayed great clutch hitting when coming back to win their fourth straight game on Friday night. Seattle trailed 5-3 in the ninth inning, but they rallied to tie it and scored four runs in the tenth to win it 9-5. Michael Saunders was the hero Friday night. He homered in the ninth to draw the Mariners to within 5-4, and he blasted the game winning grand slam in the tenth inning. Saunders went 2-for-4 with 3 runs scored and 5 RBI on Friday. The Canadian native ended up 4-for-11 in the series. Chone Figgins, after resting on Friday and going 0-for-4 on Saturday, blasted his second leadoff home run on the season in today’s game staking the Mariners to an early 1-0 lead. Seattle eventually fell 7-2. Jason Vargas was the tough-luck loser for the Mariners today. He only surrendered two runs on four hits in six innings pitched, but he left trailing 2-1. Vargas is now 3-2 on the season with a 3.38 ERA.
Bad News: After scoring nine runs on Friday, the offense went into hiding. They were shut out on Saturday, the four time this season they’ve been shut out. Run production didn’t improve much today, scoring only on Figgins’ leadoff home run and a home run by Miguel Olivo in the ninth inning once the game was out of reach. The two runs in two games were disheartening after scoring 30 runs in winning the first four games of this road trip. Kevin Millwood rebounded from tough outings against Cleveland and the White Sox but fell to 0-2 on the season in the 7-0 loss on Saturday. He was charged with only one earned run – he gave up three overall – in 7.0 IP on Saturday, lowering his season ERA to 5.24. Hisashi Iwakuma, a free agent acquisition, had his worst outing as a Mariner on Saturday as Toronto put the game out of reach. Iwakuma was roughed up for three hits and four earned runs in one inning of work.
On the Horizon: The Mariners, 4-2 on their road trip, finished up the trip in sunny Florida against Tampa. Tampa is a half-game back of surprising Baltimore depending on their result against Texas tonight. The Rays have split their first two games against the Rangers. Every Mariner starting pitcher will pitch in this series except Jason Vargas who went today. Outside of staff ace Felix Hernandez who will go Monday, the other three starters have a combined record of 2-6. The Rays, unlike Seattle have an explosive offense, that the pitchers will need to handcuff. Tampa is third in the A.L. in HR (28) and fourth in runs (98). Seattle is 8th in the A.L. in HR (18) and 7th in the A.L. in runs (90), an improvement over the past two seasons.