SEATTLE (AP) — R.A. Dickey knew it wouldn’t be easy for Toronto to come into Seattle and find success against a talented Mariners pitching staff. He just didn’t know how tough it was going to be.
Kendrys Morales hit a two-run home run in the first inning and starter Hisashi Iwakuma pitched into the seventh to help the Mariners beat the Blue Jays 2-0 Wednesday night, completing a sweep of the three-game series.
“We faced some really good pitching the last several days,” Dickey said. “We knew as a staff it was going to be tough and we’d have to keep the opponent to minimal damage.”
Although Dickey (9-12) did a fine job keeping the Mariners from breaking the series finale wide open – limiting them to two runs and seven hits with four walks in six innings – the Blue Jays couldn’t overcome Morales’ home run. Toronto lost for the ninth time in 12 games, dropping it three games behind the Seattle and Detroit for the American League’s second wild card spot.
Morales’ homer was his second in three at-bats, a span that started Tuesday night. He has four extra-base hits in three games, twice what he recorded in his first 15 games with the club since being acquired from Minnesota.
“Morales hits us for some reason,” said Blue Jays manager John Gibbons of the Seattle slugger, who is 11 for 25 with two home runs and six RBI against Toronto this year.
Iwakuma (11-6) failed to finish seven innings for the first time in eight starts, but the right-hander still struck out five without issuing a walk in 6 2-3 innings. It is the seventh time in that stretch Iwakuma has allowed two runs or fewer.
Three relievers bridged the gap to closer Fernando Rodney, who earned his 35th save in 38 chances. The Mariners won eight of nine on their homestand.
“It was a good homestand, our guys should be proud of it,” Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said.
The Mariners threatened on numerous occasions to extend the lead, but Dickey was able to strand at least two runners three separate times. The third proved to be the veteran’s greatest escape act, perhaps, as he avoided a one-out runners-on-the-corners situation by inducing a double-play grounder.
Mariners: OF Michael Saunders will return to Triple-A Tacoma to continue his rehab assignment after leaving the team to attend the birth of his second child, a son. Saunders, on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left oblique, will need more at-bats in the minors before rejoining the Mariners.
Blue Jays: 1B Edwin Encarnacion (strained right quadriceps) went 1 for 4 while playing all nine innings in the field on Wednesday for Triple-A Buffalo, which keeps him on track to rejoin the team on Friday in Chicago.
Mariners: Seattle looks to continue its strong play in Detroit on Friday as left-hander James Paxton, 5-0 in his career, makes the start.
Blue Jays: After a miserable start to an eight-game road swing, Toronto will get a day off before attempting to capture its first win of the trip against the White Sox.
The Mariners extended their club record to 12 consecutive games allowing three runs or less. Their previous high was nine games, done from June 1-11, 2009.
The Blue Jays have lost six straight road games and have five more on the trip before returning to Toronto.