TORONTO – They got dressed mostly in silence with a few muttered and muffled comments, showing an urgency to get packed and get out of the city and the country.
The Mariners arrived in Toronto riding a four-game winning streak thanks to a prodigious offense that made their obvious warts – starting pitching and an inconsistent bullpen – not seem so unappealing.
Four days later, they head back to Seattle having lost four straight to a Blue Jays team that had struggled for much of the early season, but is now 9-4 in May and winners of five in a row. Sunday’s 3-2 loss provided a fitting capper to a series of disappointment for Seattle.
With two outs in the in the ninth inning of a 2-2 game, closer Edwin Diaz hung a 1-1 slider to Kevin Pillar, which was redirected at a high rate of speed into the stands of the Rogers Centre for a walk-off homer.
The pitch was supposed to be down and away. Instead, it was over the middle and then gone.
“I missed the location and he hit the ball pretty good,” Diaz said. “He was ready for that pitch.”
But in the modern way of looking for someone to blame, most fingers would or should be pointed at the Mariners’ offense, or lack of it. After scoring 21 runs in two games in Philadelphia, the Mariners mustered six runs in four games against the Blue Jays.
“Toronto was not kind to us,” manager Scott Servais said. “As hot as we came in here, we leave just as cold.”
Over the four games against the Blue Jays, the Mariners were 4 for 35 with runners in scoring position and stranded 33 batters. Robinson Cano didn’t play in a single game and Kyle Seager went 3 for 17 with six strikeouts and no extra-base hits.
“That’s really what cooled off was obviously our bats,” Servais said. “As good as we were going the last couple of games at home and picked it up again in Philly, the line was not moving. I talk all the time about passing the baton and keeping the line moving. It wasn’t the case in this series.”
Obviously, the Blue Jays’ higher quality of pitching than the Phillies and the absence of Cano, who was out with a strained quadriceps, played some role in the Mariners’ subpar output.
“It does happen,” Servais said. “It’s the big leagues.”
Still, ask any player and there is an understanding that two or three runs simply isn’t going to cut it for the Mariners with their pitching staff so beat up and missing so many key arms.
“We’ve got to score runs,” said outfielder Jarrod Dyson.
Ariel Miranda, was solid if not efficient. He pitched into the sixth inning, giving up a run on three hits with three walks and eight strikeouts. For a rotation decimated by injuries, any sort of outing of five innings or more with minimal damage is acceptable.
“I thought he gave us a very good outing today,” Servais said. “That team over there, even though their record is not great, they are starting to get hot and swing the bat much better. Miranda gave us a good effort.”
With his team up 1-0, Miranda issued a leadoff walk to Jose Bautista to start the sixth inning and was lifted for lefty James Pazos. But Pazos couldn’t hold the lead, giving up a one-out rocket off the bat of former Mariner Justin Smoak. The line drive into left-center was just high enough to clear the wall for a go-ahead two-run homer.
With Kendrys Morales and Smoak being pinch hitters, the Mariners went to the left-handed Pazos to keep them hitting right-handed – their traditionally less productive side.
“The home runs got us today,” Servais said. “We made a couple of mistakes.”
Seattle tied the score an inning later on a home run from the unlikeliest of candidates. Dyson led off the seventh with a solo homer to right off former Mariner reliever Dominic Leone.
“It was a good swing,” Dyson said. “But just not enough to put us over the top. I’ll take it. But at the end of the day, it’s all about getting the win.”
Seattle mustered an unearned run off of Blue Jays starter Aaron Sanchez, who was just activated from the disabled list in the morning. Sanchez pitched five innings, allowing five hits with two walks and four strikeouts. The Mariners went 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position and stranded six runners on base.
“We will round it together, get back home and get back on track again,” Servais said. “It’s unfortunate, it’s disappointing but our guys continue to compete and we’ll be OK.”
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