TORONTO – Smiling widely after his first major league win, Erasmo Ramirez was on a mission to track down a memento from his milestone moment.
Kyle Seager homered and came within a triple of the cycle, Ramirez pitched seven sharp innings and the Seattle Mariners beat the Toronto Blue Jays 4-3 on Tuesday night.
“Erasmo pitched a fantastic ballgame,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. “He did a great job with his fastball, mixed in his change-up as the game wore on and had a good breaking ball.”
Starting for the first time since June 30, Ramirez (1-2) allowed two runs and six hits, setting down nine straight at one stretch. He walked one and struck out six.
“I was so happy with the last out, the 27th,” Ramirez said. “I was waiting for that since I got here.”
Ramirez, however, was still waiting for one more thing: an important keepsake.
“I went looking for the lineup,” he said. “I don’t know where it is, but I’m going to find it.”
Four relievers combined to work the eighth and Tom Wilhelmsen closed it for his 25th save in 28 chances as Seattle snapped a three-game losing streak.
Seager went 3 for 5. He had an RBI single in the first, doubled and scored in the third and homered in the fifth, his 18th.
“He’s had big hits at big times for us,” Wedge said of Seager, who leads the team with 81 RBIs.
The victory was Seattle’s 68th, one more than they had last season. The Mariners finished with 14 hits, five for extra bases.
“We swung the bats really well,” Wedge said. “I would like to have seen us put a few more tallies up there, but that doesn’t take away from the way we swung the bats. We had a lot of hits and a lot of hard outs.”
Most of the damage came off Toronto’s Brandon Morrow (8-6), who matched a career high by allowing 11 hits as the Blue Jays failed to extend their winning streak to five games.
Morrow came in 3-0 with a 1.89 ERA in three career starts against the team that drafted him, but was in trouble from the start, giving up two runs and four hits in a shaky first inning. Seager singled home the first run and, two batters later, Michael Saunders made it 2-0 with a hit to left. John Jaso tried to score from second on the play, but was thrown out at the plate by Rajai Davis.
“We were ready for the fastball,” Mariners center fielder Franklin Gutierrez said of Seattle’s approach to Morrow, who allowed four runs in 4 2/3 innings. “He’s a power pitcher and obviously we need to get on the fastball first and that’s what we did.”
While the Mariners may have focused on Morrow’s fastball, Seager said that didn’t make it any easier.
“His offspeed is so good, you’ve kind of got to pick your poison because he throws 95, too,” Seager said.
Toronto got one back off Ramirez in the bottom half on Yunel Escobar’s RBI single, but Adam Lind was thrown out trying to go from first to third, ending the rally.
Morrow got the Mariners in order in the second but ran into trouble again in the third. Jaso made it 3-1 with an RBI single but was thrown out on the bases by Davis for a second time when he tried to go from first to third on Jesus Montero’s single to left.
Seager’s leadoff homer in the fifth made it 4-2, but the Blue Jays cut it to one with a run in the eighth. Colby Rasmus doubled off Charlie Furbush, who was replaced by Josh Kinney. Edwin Encarnacion flied out, with Rasmus advancing to third. Lucas Luetge came on to face pinch-hitter Moises Sierra, who hit an RBI groundout. Stephen Pryor took over for Luetge and ended the inning by striking out Escobar.
Gutierrez made a rare error on Kelly Johnson’s deep fly ball to begin the bottom of the seventh. For Gutierrez, the miscue was his first in 301 games. He had gone 846 chances without an error, an A.L. record for outfielders.
Wedge said Gutierrez couldn’t recover after getting turned around on the play.
“It’s just one of those things that happen, for him once in about three years,” Wedge said.
Iwakuma wants to stay
Hisashi Iwakuma insists he did more than gather splinters while working long relief for the Mariners the first half of the season.
In fact, the Japanese veteran, who turned 31 in April, says those initial months helped him adjust to a very different life in the major leagues, both on and off the field. Iwakuma now feels he’s back to pitching the way he once did in Japan and – with a new agent – wants to stay in Seattle on a deal that extends beyond the 2013 season.
Which means the Mariners will have some thinking to do this winter as they weigh how much of a risk to take, going off the half-season of starts Iwakuma has made.
“For me, my family comes first and this is the best place to be for my family and me,” Iwakuma said, through interpreter Daisuke Sekiba, a friend he brought with him from Japan when he signed a $1.5 million, incentive-laden deal last winter. “I love this team and I hope I can play here the next few years.”