Take away colossal mistakes on both sides. Saturday’s game at Safeco Field was, effectively, a pitchers’ duel that turned decisively on Toronto’s long-ball muscle.
The Mariners surrendered just four hits but three were home runs in a 4-2 loss to the Blue Jays in front of a sellout crowd of 45,480 at Safeco Field.
Lefty Ariel Miranda gave up two runs and two hits in 6 1/3 innings, while Toronto’s young ace, Marcus Stroman, held the Mariners to two runs, one earned, and six hits in seven innings.
It was 2-2 entering the eighth inning when the Mariners’ bullpen blinked after being air tight in recent weeks.
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Tony Zych gave up a tie-breaking homer to Ezequiel Carrera in the eighth inning, and Steve Cishek gave up an insurance-run homer in the ninth to Justin Smoak.
That was the ballgame.
The Mariners won Friday’s series opener by the same 4-2 score, which sets up Sunday’s finale as the rubber game. It also marks the end of the Mariners’ longest homestand of the season: 11 games; They are 7-3 with one game to go.
Three takeaways from Saturday’s loss:
***A maturing Miranda: He wasn't as sharp as in his previous start, a complete-game victory over Tampa Bay, but Miranda, in a way, was no less impressive.
Miranda fought his command in issuing five walks but still minimized damage against a potent lineup. He made one real mistake, and Kendrys Morales turned it into a two-run homer. Even so, Miranda lowered his ERA to 3.67.
***An overused Motter: Taylor Motter has proved to be every bit of the super utilityman the Mariners envisioned when they acquired him in a trade last November from Tampa Bay.
Defensively, he not only can play everywhere, he can play it in in plus fashion.
That said, injuries to other players continue to force him into the lineup on a regular basis, and his production at the plate continues to suggest his bat isn’t an everyday tool. His average is down to .208 after going hitless in four at-bats.
The Mariners hope shortstop Jean Segura’s high ankle sprain heals sufficiently by next weekend to permit him to return from the disabled list. That would provide a potent bat too the lineup and also permit Motter to resume utilityman duties.
***The outfield mix: With Mitch Haniger poised to return Sunday from the disabled list and regain regular duty in right field, the other outfielders (Jarrod Dyson, Ben Gamel and Guillermo Heredia) will see reduced playing time.
It will be interesting to see how manager Scott Servais doles out playing time since all three bring different skills to the table. What seems certain is only an injury gets Leonys Martin a summons from Triple-A Tacoma.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners