Mariners Insider Blog

Blue Jays bounce back with three homers in victory over Mariners

Kendrys Morales rounds second base on his two-run homer in the fourth inning as Robinson Cano looks on.
Kendrys Morales rounds second base on his two-run homer in the fourth inning as Robinson Cano looks on. AP

Getting bang for the buck has nothing to do with the exchange rate when it comes to this weekend’s Canadian invasion at Safeco Field.

The Toronto Blue Jays mustered just four hits Saturday night but three left the park in a 4-2 victory over the Mariners in front of a sellout crowd of 45,480 that marked the largest of the season.

A good portion of the crowd left happy.

Two-time former Mariner Kendrys Morales erased an early Mariners lead with a two-run homer in the fourth inning against starter Ariel Miranda. Those were the only runs against Miranda is 6 1/3 innings.

After the Mariners cashed two Toronto errors for the tying run in the seventh, Ezequiel Carrera opened the eighth inning with a no-doubt drive to right against Tony Zych.

"I was trying to go on there with a four-seamer," Zych said, "and it leaked back over the plate. It wasn’t the best pitch, and he got it."

Carrera has just 16 career homers in 431 games over seven seasons, but two came in back-to-back games in 2015 at Safeco Field.

"He’s got some pop," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "Occasionally, he’ll run into one. We love home runs. We’ve scored a lot of runs off of home runs.

"I don’t know if it will work forever but, right now, it’s working."

Carrera’s homer was the first run allowed by the Mariners’ bullpen in 13 2/3 innings over the last five games.

The next one came one inning later when Justin Smoak, another ex-Mariner, led off the ninth with a homer against Steve Cishek.

"Our bullpen has been so good," manager Scott Servais said. "We really haven’t seen any hiccups at all from the guys down there. But a couple of mistakes over the plate hurt us."

The loss again kept the Mariners from climbing above .500. They’ve reached break-even this season on three occasions but have yet to clear the hurdle.

This was a game dotted by mistakes on both sides.

The Mariners erased a 2-1 deficit in the seventh inning against Toronto starter Marcus Stroman after Jarrod Dyson led off with a single.

Dyson stole second, went to third on a throwing error by catcher Russell Martin and scored when center fielder Kevin Pillar failed to make a clean pickup on Martin’s errant throw.

"How often do you see that?" Gibbons asked. "That’s what Dyson can do. He helped Kansas City get to two World Series by his legs. It’s tough to stop. He gets on, and it’s really almost impossible to stop him."

Especially when you make two errors on the same play.

The Mariners had a breakdown, too.

After Carrera’s homer put Toronto back on top in the eighth inning, Jose Bautista then drew a two-out walk after fighting back from an 0-2 hole.

When Bautista reached first base, he noticed Zych (2-2) was distracted, and the Mariners weren’t protecting second base. Bautista chugged into second base without a play.

"Lack of focus there," Servais said. "I think (Zych) got caught up in (reacting) to a couple of close pitches to Bautista. He thought he had him punched out.

"You can not let your guard down. It should not happen at this level."

It was scored a fielder’s choice because brain cramp isn’t recognized in the official scoring rules. Ultimately, it didn’t matter. Zych steadied and ended the inning by retiring Morales on a grounder to short.

Carrera’s homer also allowed Stroman (7-2) to hand off a one-run lead to reliever Joe Smith, who quickly found trouble when the Mariners opened their eighth with singles by Guillermo Heredia and Robinson Cano.

Nelson Cruz initially appeared to ground into a double play, started when third baseman Josh Donaldson made a fine stop. The Mariners challenged, and a replay overturned the out at first.

That left runners at first and third with one out, but the Mariners still came up empty when Smith struck out Kyle Seager and got Taylor Motter to ground into a force at second.

Roberto Osuna then secured Stroman’s victory with a one-two-three ninth that included two strikeouts.

PLAY(S) OF THE GAME: Seager made a diving stop to his right on Troy Tulowitzki’s sharp two-out grounder up the third-base line in the second inning.

Seager got quickly to his feet and bounced the throw to first base, but Taylor Motter scooped the ball for the out.

That was Seager’s warmup act.

He made a diving catch to his left on Josh Donaldson’s two-out rocket in the third inning with two runners on base.

PLUS: Seager was 2-for-3 in addition to his stellar defensive play…Tyler Smith started at shortstop and turned Tulowitzki’s grounder into the hole into a force at second in the seventh inning.

MINUS: Letting Bautista reach second without a throw in the eighth inning was major breakdown…Motter started at first base and went hitless in four at-bats. His average is down to .208.

STAT PACK: The crowd of 45,480 was a sellout and the largest of the season at Safeco Field. It was also the largest crowd, home or away, to see the Mariners play this season.

QUOTABLE: Zych on the lapse that permitted Bautista to move up a base in the eighth inning: "I was refocusing there. It was a tough at-bat. I looked over, and he was already at second.

"I think (we) were moving into the shift. I looked at Seager to see where he was going. By the time I realized it, (Bautista) was already there. It was one of those freak things. Perfect time to go."

SHORT HOPS: Dyson has 17 steals in 20 attempts…Stroman has allowed two or fewer earned runs in 10 of his 13 starts…Osuna got his 15th save in 18 chances.

ON DECK: The Mariners and Blue Jays conclude their three-game series at 1:10 p.m. Sunday at Safeco Field. Left-hander James Paxton (5-0 with a 1.69 ERA) ex-Mariners lefty J.A. Happ (0-4, 5.33).

The game can be seen on Root Sports Northwest and heard on 710 ESPN and the Mariners Radio Network.

Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners