TORONTO -- The comeback kids are at it again.The Blue Jays are three games above. 500, and their performance late in games is the primary reason why. Toronto picked up its 12th come-from-behind victory of the season with a four-run rally in the bottom of the eighth to steal a
TORONTO -- The comeback kids are at it again.
The Blue Jays are three games above. 500, and their performance late in games is the primary reason why. Toronto picked up its 12th come-from-behind victory of the season with a four-run rally in the bottom of the eighth to steal a victory away from the Mariners on Wednesday night.
Toronto doubled four times in the eighth inning off reliever Juan Nicasio to secure a 5-2 victory. The Blue Jays have three victories this season when trailing after seven innings and eight when the game is tied. Late-inning rallies have become part of Toronto's regular routine and have allowed the club to hang around in the competitive American League East.
"We needed that," said Blue Jays manager John Gibbons, whose team was no-hit the night before by Canadian James Paxton. "They held us in check early, but we came to life late. We were overdue to explode because we have a good offense. That was nice."
Josh Donaldson, Yangervis Solarte, Justin Smoak and Russell Martin all doubled in the crucial eighth.
Teoscar Hernandez was the other big standout on offense, as he went 3-for-4 and finished a triple shy of the cycle. Kevin Pillar and Luke Maile enjoyed multi-hit games as the Blue Jays scored more than four runs for the first time in five games. Toronto remains a perfect 16-0 when scoring at least five runs this season.
The Blue Jays lead the Major Leagues with 73 runs scored in the seventh inning or later. Combine that type of execution with a bullpen that has an American League-best 3.03 ERA, and it's easy to see why the Blue Jays have been enjoying so much success late in games. The recipe worked again vs. Seattle thanks in large part to four more scoreless innings from the bullpen.
"They've done a great job for us. They're a big reason why we're having success late in ballgames scoring runs," Donaldson said of the bullpen. "They're able to come up, throw some zeros up on the scoreboard. It allows us to either get some momentum or carry some momentum over."
The late-inning heroics helped overshadow another rough start for veteran lefty Jaime Garcia, whose pitching line looked decent enough, but the eye test told a different story. Garcia limited Seattle to a pair of runs, one earned, over five innings, but also walked five batters, hit another and failed to complete six innings for the sixth time in seven starts.
The good news for Garcia is that he did not allow a home run for the first time this season. The bad news is he used up far too many pitches early in the game, which once again impacted his ability to pitch deep into the game. That has been an ongoing concern for a Blue Jays rotation that was supposed to be among the best in the Majors but instead has a 5.31 ERA in 37 games.
"Throw the ball over the plate," Gibbons replied when asked what his message to Garcia was. "Simple, but it's not quite that simple. He settled in and did a nice job."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Gurriel's grab: The Mariners had already scored one run in the first and were threatening to score more when Nelson Cruz stepped to the plate with one out and a runner on third. Cruz hit a sharp grounder to short that was snagged by a diving Lourdes Gurriel Jr. Toronto's promising prospect had the presence of mind to get to his feet quickly before unloading a strong throw home. Jean Segura initially hesitated on the play when running from third, and it cost him, as he was thrown out at home.
"For a young kid, it was a hard-hit ball, so we knew he had a shot, but you need to have the arm strength to do it," Gibbons said. "He's made great plays since he's been here. He's going to make mistakes, still learning at this level, but he's doing a lot of good things."
New-look ninth: With Roberto Osuna away from the team on administrative leave, the Blue Jays were forced to unveil a different look in the ninth. Toronto is expected to use several pitchers in the closer's role for as long as Osuna remains out of uniform, but the first opportunity went to the veteran Tyler Clippard. The 33-year-old tossed a scoreless ninth to pick up his first save of the season and the 62nd of his career. Seunghwan Oh, John Axford and Dennis Tepera also pitched scoreless innings out of the bullpen for Toronto.
"Basically we're just doing it by committee right now," Clippard said. "I was told to be ready from the seventh to the ninth. I'm used to that. It's one of those things I've done in my career a lot. Nothing new. We have so many guys down there who can do that job, which is kind of what makes our bullpen so good. I was ready, and I'm sure those other guys were, too."
The Blue Jays have two of the three MLB innings in which a team has hit four doubles this season. In addition to the eighth inning on Wednesday night, Toronto also had four doubles in one inning against the White Sox on April 3. Cincinnati is the other team with four doubles in one inning this season.
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
The Blue Jays' rally in the bottom of the eighth almost didn't happen. Solarte doubled home the tying run with a shot into the left-field corner, but as he slid into second base, his foot momentarily came off the bag. Robinson Cano tried to apply the tag at second, but umpire Marvin Hudson stuck with his safe call. Seattle asked for a review, and after a brief delay, the call on the field was confirmed. That loomed large when Smoak followed with an RBI double of his own to give the Blue Jays a 3-2 lead.
Left-hander J.A. Happ will take the mound when the Blue Jays close out a three-game series against the Mariners on Thursday night, with first pitch scheduled for 7:07 p.m. ET. Happ had a four-decision win streak come to an end in his last start, allowing three runs over 5 2/3 innings in a loss to the Rays. He walked a season-high four batters in that start. Mike Leake will start for Seattle.
Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.