SEATTLE – Jose Reyes homered on the first pitch of the game, added an RBI single to cap Toronto’s big fourth inning, and the Blue Jays handed Seattle ace Felix Hernandez his first loss since late May with a 7-2 win over the Mariners on Tuesday.
The Blue Jays battered Hernandez (11-5) and knocked him out after just five innings, matching his shortest start of the season.
A leading contender for a second A.L. Cy Young Award, Hernandez got no help from his defense that committed three errors that led to three unearned runs while he was on the mound.
Despite lasting just five innings, Hernandez’s ERA only rose from 2.30 to 2.39. Hernandez had not lost since May 25, a span of 12 starts.
Toronto’s Josh Johnson (2-8) pitched well with his potential spot in the rotation at stake. Johnson threw five scoreless innings and won for the first time since June 23, snapping a six-game losing streak.
Reyes brought the huge contingent of Blue Jays’ fans to their feet from the start. He lined Hernandez’s first fastball of the night 399 feet into the seats in right for his eighth home run of the season. It was Reyes’ 18th career leadoff homer and first this season.
For Hernandez, it was just the second leadoff home run allowed in his career and a precursor to a tough night.
Toronto scored three times in the fourth helped by two Seattle errors. Emilio Bonifacio had the big hit with a two-out double into the gap in right-center field.
Bonifacio’s hit came after three defensive breakdowns by Seattle: Kyle Seager committed his second error of the night, shortstop Brad Miller threw wildly to second trying to start a double play and Miller failed to hold the ball when tagging Brett Lawrie on a stolen base.
Reyes followed Bonifacio with an RBI single to cap the big inning. Toronto then scored twice more in the fifth when Colby Rasmus dropped an RBI single on a two-out, 0-2 pitch from Hernandez. That was followed by Lawrie’s RBI single and a 6-0 lead.
Seattle’s ugly night defensively was capped in the seventh when Raul Ibanez committed the Mariners’ fourth error spiking an attempted throw from left field into the ground just a few feet in front of him and allowing Jose Bautista to score Toronto’s seventh run.
It was the second time this season Johnson didn’t allow a run and a key for him was getting out of the first when Seattle had runners on the corners and one out.
M’s demote Wilhelmsen
Former closer Tom Wilhelmsen was demoted to the minors by the Seattle Mariners in the hopes he can rediscover command of his pitches.
Seattle optioned Wilhelmsen to Triple-A Tacoma on Tuesday. He instantly took the mound in Tacoma, pitching two innings in a day game.
Wilhelmsen was solid early in the season but had struggled with his command of late. He had 18 walks in his last 23 1/3 innings after walking just eight in his first 24 innings this season. Wilhelmsen had converted 24 of 29 save opportunities this season.
Seattle also announced it was recalling Franklin Gutierrez from his minor-league rehab assignment, although he remains on the disabled list, and released outfielder Jason Bay, who was designated for assignment late last month.
Seattle recalled reliever Carter Capps, on his second stint with the Mariners, to take Wilhelmsen’s spot. Capps appeared in 33 games with a 2-2 record and 6.37 ERA earlier this season. … Texas’ Ian Kinsler is the only other batter to hit a leadoff homer off Hernandez. … The four errors by Seattle were its most since committing six vs. the Angels in September 2011.