Toronto struggles to solve Seattle’s pitching, falls 6-3 to Mariners
SEATTLE – J.A. Happ doesn’t believe the Toronto Blue Jays are putting an excessive amount of importance on an August series.
He is willing to give some credit to the new co-leaders in the race for the second wild card in the American League.
“It’s just they are doing the things we’re not right now, and we need to turn it around,” Happ said.
Kyle Seager and Kendrys Morales hit solo home runs, Dustin Ackley added a key two-out, two-run single, and the Seattle Mariners moved into a tie for the second wild card spot with a 6-3 win over the Blue Jays on Tuesday night.
Toronto dropped the first two games of the series and was sloppy in doing so. The Blue Jays committed two errors, including a simple fielding miscue by reliever Aaron Loup in the eighth that gave Seattle an insurance run.
Happ (8-7) gave up seven hits and struck out only one in six innings after recording 12 strikeouts in his last start.
“It’s probably going to sound weird but I’ll take my chances with the way I threw the ball tonight any day of the week,” Happ said. “The results weren’t there and that is frustrating. Every game is big but I can’t get too down on this.”
Seattle won for the seventh time in eight games to catch Detroit in the wild card race. Seattle got another solid performance from veteran Chris Young, who earned his 11th victory, and the Mariners also continued their recent offensive punch.
Seager’s 18th homer gave Seattle a 2-1 lead in the fourth. Ackley followed an inning later, going to the opposite field to drive in a pair. Morales capped the night with his first homer since being acquired by the Mariners in a trade with Minnesota in late July.
It was Morales’ first homer since June 24, snapping a career-high, 41-game drought without a long ball.
Ackley’s hit was the one that stuck with Happ.
“It was a fastball away on the corner. He just reached out and dropped it in there,” Happ said. “There is not much you can do about that.”
Young (11-6) pitched six strong innings, allowing just two hits. He yielded a first-inning run after walking Jose Reyes on four pitches and giving up Melky Cabrera’s RBI double to start the game. Young retired 14 straight after Cabrera’s double, the streak snapped when Juan Francisco doubled in the fifth.
Young struck out three and walked two, and won his third straight decision.
Jose Bautista had an RBI double, and Nolan Reimould added a sacrifice fly in the eighth, but Francisco Rodney pitched the ninth for his 33rd save.
“Top to bottom the (Seattle) pitching staff – rotation and bullpen – is one of the best in baseball,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said. “But we have got to score for our staff.”
Toronto has dropped 12 of 16 games against AL West teams, dating to July 3. The Blue Jays are 4-12 on the road against AL West teams this season, but Toronto has only four more games versus the West after Wednesday’s series finale – a four-game series with the Mariners at home in September.
THREE OR LESS
Seattle extended its club record with an 11th straight game giving up three runs or fewer. Seattle is 8-3 during the stretch with a staff ERA of 1.93.
Blue Jays: Adam Lind (foot) was activated off the 15-day disabled list, and he batted fourth. Lind went hitless in three at bats.
Mariners: LHP Roenis Elias was optioned to the minors recently in an effort to control his innings. Elias will throw a few innings later this week at Triple-A Tacoma and likely rejoin the Seattle rotation next week in Philadelphia.
Blue Jays: RHP R.A. Dickey (9-11) got a no decision in his last start against Detroit despite allowing just two earned runs. Dickey’s last win came on July 28 against Boston.
Mariners: RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (10-6) is looking to continue a strong stretch. Over his last eight starts, Iwakuma is 5-2 with a 2.04 ERA and he has pitched at least seven innings in his past seven starts.