SEATTLE – Omar Narváez and J.P. Crawford supported Justus Sheffield with a couple big swings.
Narváez and Crawford homered, and the Seattle Mariners beat the Toronto Blue Jays 7-4 on Friday night for their fifth win in six games.
Narváez led off the second inning with his 18th homer and Crawford did the same leading off the fifth, belting his sixth of the year.
“We had a ton of chances to put up more runs than we did tonight,” manager Scott Servais said. “A lot of good at-bats up and down the lineup.”
The production by Narváez, Crawford and Kyle Seager helped make up for a so-so performance by Sheffield in the first major league start for the pitching prospect.
The rookie left-hander surrendered two runs in the first inning as Toronto sent eight batters to the plate and left the bases loaded. Sheffield permitted one run and three hits for the rest of his outing, but his high pitch count ended his night after just four innings.
“I felt good all night. I felt like I threw some pretty good pitches and felt like I mixed in and out pretty well and stuck with the game plan,” Sheffield said. “I left some pitches over the plate and mistakes get hit here. Learning curve but ready to get back out there and have a better showing next time.”
Seager continued his hot August at the plate with doubles in consecutive at-bats along with a pair of walks. Seager started the day hitting .323 with eight homers and 18 RBIs this month.
Seattle took the lead for good in the sixth, scoring three times with just one hit as Toronto’s bullpen struggled to throw strikes. Toronto used five relievers and issued seven walks in four innings of relief.
“We just didn’t throw strikes. I think whatever inning that was where we gave up the four walks and the wild pitches and stuff, our bullpen just didn’t throw strikes,” Toronto manager Charlie Montoya said. “It was tough and it’s tough to play defence when guys are not throwing strikes.”
Teoscar Hernandez had two hits and two RBIs and Bo Bichette collected three hits, but the Blue Jays were stymied by Seattle’s bullpen.
Five Mariners relievers combined to allow four hits and an unearned run. Matt Wisler (3-2) got the victory and Matt Magill worked the ninth for his third save.
Seattle’s bottom of the sixth took 30 minutes. It featured three runs, three Toronto pitchers, two run-scoring wild pitches and just one hit. Nine batters came to the plate and only a sliding catch by Hernandez in centre field kept the damage from being any worse.
Sam Gaviglio (4-2) recorded just two outs. He walked three and was charged with three runs.
“It’s good to get it out of the way. Now it’s go time. I don’t have to worry about it or focus on it,” Seattle outfielder Jake Fraley after getting his first major league hit in the second inning.
Servais said left-hander Yusei Kikuchi will move back into the rotation on Tuesday night when the Mariners host the New York Yankees. His opponent on the mound: fellow Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka in a matchup that is sure to draw plenty of attention back home in Japan.
Kikuchi was skipped this turn in the rotation in order for Sheffield to start. Kikuchi threw a two-hitter in his last start.
With Kikuchi returning to the rotation and the additions of Sheffield and Felix Hernandez, the Mariners will move lefty Wade LeBlanc to the bullpen.
Blue Jays: RHP Clay Buchholz is expected to be activated from the 60-day injured list to start Sunday’s series finale. Buchholz has not pitched for Toronto since early May due to a muscle strain in his upper back.
Mariners: OF Mitch Haniger has been slowed down by a sore back that popped up during his rehab assignment. Servais was unsure the severity but was hopeful Haniger would be able to resume playing soon. … OF Braden Bishop (spleen) will be transferred to Triple-A Tacoma to continue his rehab assignment this weekend. … RHP Chasen Bradford underwent Tommy John surgery last week.
Blue Jays: Toronto is expected to use an opener followed by RHP Brock Stewart (2-0, 7.43 ERA). Stewart allowed three earned runs in 5 1/3 innings in his last outing.
Mariners: Hernandez (1-4, 6.52 ERA) will be activated off the 60-day injured list to make his first start since May 11. Hernandez initially suffered a lat strain and had several setbacks in his recovery. He’s expected to throw somewhere around 70 to 80 pitches.