Seattle’s bullpen problems flared up again, as former closer Fernando Rodney and young replacement Carson Smith gave up four runs combined in the eighth and ninth innings of an 8-6 loss to Toronto Saturday at Safeco Field. Blue Jays 1B Chris Colabello delivered the back-breaking hit with a bases-loaded single in the ninth, driving a pair of runs as Toronto rallied from a 6-3 deficit.
Big as Colabello’s two-run single was, the game really turned on a Fernando Rodney pitch that Toronto pinch hitter Ezequiel Carrera hammered for a score-tying, two-run homer in the eighth. Rodney’s fifth blown save of the season brought a shower of boos from the Seattle fans that were among the 45,027 at Safeco Field.
Seattle’s bullpen bailed out floundering starter J.A. Happ for five innings before Rodney came on and provided a familiar act in the eighth. Smith wasn’t any better in the ninth. Fellow relievers Vidal Nuno and Tom Wilhelmsen did enough to keep the Mariners in the game after Happ’s bid to serve up his former team a slice of humble pie fell flat. Happ walked in two runs during a 43-pitch second that eventually led to him being yanked after 1.2 innings.
The Mariners are in such an offensive groove that even backup catcher Jesus Sucre was into the action. His first career homer, a solo shot in the second inning, snapped an 0-for-16 slump. 2B Robinson Cano added a three-run homer as Seattle scored in each of the first four innings, taking a 6-3 lead. The bats went quiet after that, but the Mariners had more than enough offense to win on most days.
“I think this is my favorite place, besides the Rogers Centre (in Toronto), to play. I really
like the city and like this ballpark. Obviously, it’s really memorable for me.” – Blue Jays
1B Chris Colabello, who hit his first career homer in the 13th inning of a game at Safeco
Field in 2013 and had the game-winning hit Saturday
Sucre recorded his first MLB hit in 2½ months with his second-inning homer. He has two hits in 18 at-bats . . . Toronto starter Drew Hutchinson was scratched from Thursday and Friday scheduled starts due to the flu, but he was healthy enough to be on the mound Saturday . . . The Blue Jays made a minor move, activating RHP Aaron Sanchez while making room for him by optioning former Mariners reliever Steve Delabar to Triple-A . . . SS Brad Miller and C Mike Zunino got the day off Saturday, while RF Nelson Cruz got a bit of a break while serving as DH . . . Toronto’s Colabello, who had the game-winning hit, earned his first career homer at Safeco Field July 27, 2013. That was a two-run shot in the 13th inning that led the Minnesota Twins to a road win over the Mariners.
RHP Taijuan Walker has fallen back to earth in recent starts. The Mariners are hoping he falls back to his June form when Seattle hosts the Blue Jays Sunday afternoon. Walker (7-7, 5.06 ERA) has allowed at least five earned runs in each of his past three starts. Toronto LHP Mark Buehrle (11-5, 3.23 ERA) has had a much better month, going 3-1 with a 1.24 ERA in July.