SEATTLE -- The Mariners entered Sunday desperately needing a win to avoid being swept by the Blue Jays and to keep pace with the surging Athletics in the race for the second American League Wild Card spot.
Thankfully, Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager came up big.
Facing Jays right-hander Joe Biagini in the seventh inning with the game tied at 3, Cruz lined a two-run homer to the 'pen in left-center field, then Seager followed with a solo shot -- his second of the day -- to lead the Mariners to a 6-3 win over Toronto.
On Cruz's home run, the veteran slugger broke his bat, but the ball still traveled an estimated 404 feet, per Statcast™.
"It's pretty incredible," Seager said of Cruz's go-ahead blast. "I gave it my best bolt to center field [in the third inning], and it got caught halfway on the track. And he broke his bat and hit it 20 feet farther. It's incredible the things he can do."
Cruz finished with a game-high four RBIs, and Seager went 2-for-4 to lift his batting average to .231 in a season where the former All-Star has struggled offensively.
"It's nice to see a complete game out there from everybody," manager Scott Servais said. "We had a lot of really good at-bats offensively today, and we had the Seager game today. We've been waiting for that one, and Kyle was huge there."
With the victory, the Mariners stayed 2 1/2 games behind Oakland in the race for the second American League Wild Card after the A's beat the Tigers on Sunday. Seattle also snapped a five-game losing streak in which they were outscored, 32-11, to improve to 64-48 and finish the homestand at 2-5.
The Mariners also momentarily stopped an offensive slump that had stretched into its second month. During that span, it's fallen on the pitching staff to keep games competitive. And that's what they received from Mike Leake, who allowed three runs over 6 2/3 innings en route to a no-decision. Leake was in control throughout, scattering nine hits and striking out five while walking none.
"We don't get in that position if Mike Leake doesn't do his job," Servais said. "Really, really good effort. Kept them off balance. … Really clutch by him going out there and taking the ball. He knows we've been struggling, and he doesn't have much room for error based on what our offense has been able to do."
The outing was nearly flawless, but in the seventh, the veteran right-hander surrendered the lead when he gave up a two-run homer on a hanging slider to Aledmys Diaz, tying the game at 3 and sending a crowd, littered with thousands of Blue Jays fans, into a frenzy.
After Cruz and Seager homered in the bottom of the frame to retake the lead, Alex Colome worked a scoreless eighth, then closer Edwin Diaz finished it off with a 1-2-3 ninth to pick up his Major League-leading 41st save of the season.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
With two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the third, Cruz chopped a single off the glove of Diaz at shortstop and through the left side of the infield, giving the Mariners an early 2-0 lead. The hit felt monumental after Seattle spent much of the past week struggling to come through with a big hit in high-leverage situations. It also marked the first time they had led in 28 innings.
If Seattle wants to have any chance of snapping a postseason drought that stretches back to 2001, the formula seems pretty simple: Score four runs or more. When the offense does that, the Mariners are 45-13 this season.
HE SAID IT
"We haven't been doing what we want to do, and I certainly haven't been doing my part. Today felt good, and hopefully we'll continue to put up some good at-bats and score some runs." -- Seager
The Mariners begin a 10-game road trip Monday with the first of a three-game series at Globe Life Park in Arlington against the Rangers at 5:05 p.m. PT. Left-hander Wade LeBlanc (6-2, 3.95 ERA) will look to bounce back after allowing seven runs over 4 1/3 innings against the Astros in his last start. He'll face fellow southpaw Martin Perez (2-4, 6.50), who allowed two runs over six innings April 22 en route to a win in his only appearance this season against Seattle.