Ryan Borucki was tiring as he prepared to enter the eighth inning for the first time in his major league career.
Fortunately, the Blue Jays’ rookie left-hander had the boisterous assistance of a crowd packed with Canadians vacationing a bit south of the border in Seattle.
The 24-year-old starter, pitching in his seventh game, breezed through a perfect eighth to put a signature on his first big league victory as Toronto beat a suddenly reeling Mariners 7-2 on Friday night. He walked off the mound to a standing ovation from what seemed like a rare home crowd on the road.
“I’m on cloud nine right now,” said Borucki (1-2), who gave up one run and four hits in eight innings, striking out two without issuing a walk. “It was definitely worth the wait. These fans here, I was just riding on those fans. They were keeping me in it. It was a lot of fun.”
Toronto got a well-balanced attack, including home runs from Russell Martin and Devon Travis, and added three insurance runs in the ninth.
The Blue Jays supported Borucki right away. Randal Grichuk led off the game with a double down the first-base line against Seattle starter Marco Gonzales and Travis singled him in. Toronto extended its lead to 2-0 in the fourth inning when Martin hit a solo homer to left-centre field.
The Mariners got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the fourth on Kyle Seager’s RBI single, but the Jays pulled away in the top of the fifth, when Grichuk reached on a one-out infield single and Travis hit a two-run homer off the scoreboard beyond the left-field wall. Toronto added three in the ninth off Mariners reliever Chasen Bradford.
Meanwhile, Borucki shined, getting quick outs via ground balls, spotting his fastball in the 92-93 mph range, and making the Mariners hitters’ aggressiveness work against them.
“He looked composed, in control and just pitched his game,” Martin said. “He’s good. He’s got what it takes and he’s not afraid out there. It’s just nice to see somebody out there that just attacks the zone and goes right after guys.”
The Mariners have lost four consecutive games and are looking to break out of a slump that saw them score the fewest runs in MLB in the month of July and only eight in three games so far in August.
“It’s kind of the same old tune here offensively,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “It will turn — I know it will, our guys know it will — but it is really frustrating right now. Everybody’s grinding away trying to figure out a way to get out of this thing.”
Toronto reliever Ken Giles, acquired in a deadline trade with the Houston Astros, made his Blue Jays debut in the ninth and gave up a run on a two-out single by Ryon Healy. The reliever struck out three.