Mariners Game Recap: M’s Go Blue Jay Hunting in Toronto

Jul 23, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma (18) delivers a pitch against the Toronto Blue Jays in the first inning at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 23, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma (18) delivers a pitch against the Toronto Blue Jays in the first inning at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports /

62. Final. 5. 39. 14

With today’s win, the Mariners have moved to within 3.5 games of the Blue Jays in the wildcard, and have guaranteed themselves at least a series win during the weekend set in Toronto.

The Seattle Mariners embarrassed the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday afternoon at the Rogers Centre, winning 14-5. Hisashi Iwakuma (11-6, 3.96 ERA) earned the victory for the Mariners, and R.A. Dickey (7-11, 4.44 ERA) took the loss for the Blue Jays.

The game remained scoreless until the home half of the second inning. Kevin Pillar worked a 1-out walk to spark the rally for the Blue Jays. Devon Travis followed with a single to right field, and Pillar hustled around to third base. Josh Thole lofted a fly ball into left field that was deep enough to score Pillar from third base. Thole’s sac fly gave Toronto a 1-0 lead.

The Mariners answered back in the top of the third inning. Shawn O’Malley legged out an infield single – his first of three infield singles today – leading off the frame. Nori Aoki grounded into a fielder’s choice, but Seth Smith and Robinson Cano were both hit by pitches to load the bases with only 1 out. Nelson Cruz tattooed an R.A. Dickey knuckler deep to center field for a grand slam. The Boomstick’s 24th round-tripper of the season gave Seattle a 4-1 lead.

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Seattle added to their lead in the top of the fourth. Leonys Martin, Chris Iannetta and O’Malley all reached safely to load the bases for the M’s with none out. Aoki plated Martin on a single to make it 5-1. Smith grounded into a double play, but Iannetta was able to trot home to score on the play. Midway through the fourth, the Mariners held a 6-1 lead.

The Mariners blew the game wide open in the sixth inning. Iannetta doubled leading off the inning, and O’Malley singled to put runners on the corners with none out. Aoki singled home Iannetta, and Smith plated O’Malley on a single of his own to make it 8-1. Cruz stepped to the plate with the bases juiced and none out, but grounded into a double play. However, Aoki was able to score on the twin killing. Kyle Seager provided a pair of insurance runs when he hit a 2-run homer to left-center field. Seager’s 19th big fly of the season gave the M’s an 11-1 lead.

The Blue Jays cut into the the M’s lead in the home half of the sixth thanks to a former Mariner. For the second consecutive day, Michael Saunders hit a solo home run to left-center field. Saunders is having a stellar season in Toronto, but his homer today had little effect on the final outcome.

Hisashi Iwakuma was very effective in this one for the Mariners. The 35-year-old right-hander allowed just 2 runs on 4 hits across 6 innings of work. Kuma struck out 3 and walked 3 en route to earning his 11th victory of the season. Something happens to Iwakuma when the calendar flips to July, and he is now 4-0 with a 2.45 ERA this month.

Scott Servais turned to Wade LeBlanc in the seventh inning. The veteran southpaw made quick work of the Blue Jays, retiring the side in order and recording a pair of strikeouts.

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The Boomstick was at it again in the top of the eighth inning. Smith worked a leadoff walk, and Cano ripped a ground-ball down the line in right field for a double. Cruz then destroyed a Drew Storen sinker, depositing it into the seats in left field for a 3-run shot. The home run gave the Mariners a 14-2 lead. Cruz had a remarkable day on Saturday, clubbing a pair of homers and driving in a whopping 7 runs.

LeBlanc stayed on to pitch the eighth inning for Seattle, and he failed to duplicate his success. After retiring the first two men in the inning, Saunders once again hit a solo home run to the opposite field. Then it was ex-Mariner Justin Smoak‘s turn to burn his former club. With Troy Tulowitzki standing on first base, Smoak yanked a 2-run home run that just snuck over the wall in left field to make it a 14-5 game.

Next: The summer heat brings out the best in Iwakuma

Up next for the Mariners (50-47) is an opportunity to sweep the Blue Jays (54-44) on Sunday afternoon in Toronto. First pitch is scheduled for 10:07 am PT from the Rogers Centre. Wade Miley (6-7, 5.36 ERA) will make the start for the M’s, and J.A. Happ (12-3, 3.43 ERA) will be on the bump for the home side.