Mariners' bats give Felix room to top Jays
TORONTO -- Felix Hernandez had another dominating performance while Nelson Cruz homered and Logan Morrison added a two-run triple in the Mariners' 4-3 victory over the Blue Jays on Friday night at Rogers Centre.
Hernandez surrendered a solo homer to Edwin Encarnacion in the first inning, but was borderline flawless from that point on. He faced the minimum from the second inning through the fifth and allowed only two baserunners to reach scoring position.
"He was outstanding," said Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon. "He left one slider up and that was about it. He was pretty darn good. That was a pretty impressive outing."
The former Cy Young Award winner allowed four hits and two walks while striking out eight over seven innings. He has now surrendered three runs or fewer in all but one of his nine starts this season and leads the Major Leagues with seven wins.
Right-hander Marco Estrada took the loss for Toronto after allowing four runs over seven innings. Estrada gave up six hits and three walks with five strikeouts in his fourth start since being moved out of the bullpen earlier this month.
"He has a good fastball, he has a dynamite changeup, he mixes in some breaking balls every now and then, and he attacks," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said in reference to Hernandez. "He'll let it fly, too, so it's not a comfortable at-bat in there. He's one of the top in the game, he has been for years."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
RISP-y business: Producing with runners in scoring position has been a season-long issue for Seattle, including a 3-for-15 game on Thursday that left them hitting .220 with RISP for the year. But Morrison drove a two-run triple past diving right fielder Chris Colabello with two on and two out in the fourth inning and Mike Zunino followed by pulling a double just inside the third-base line as the Mariners took a 3-1 lead.
King of the road: Cruz has crushed opposing pitchers everywhere he's been this year as he's now hit a Major League-leading 17 homers in 41 games, but he's been particularly impressive on the road, where he now has 13 homers in 20 games. Seattle's big right fielder went 2-for-4 with a double and homer to hike his AL-leading batting average to .354, including a .403 road mark. More >
The Edwing returns: On a night when the Blue Jays were overmatched by Hernandez, Encarnacion provided one of the only bright spots with his solo homer in the first inning. It was Encarnacion's second consecutive game with a home run and his seventh of the month. Dating back to 2014, the veteran slugger has 23 homers and 52 RBIs in the month of May, which leads the Major Leagues over that same span.
"Every time I come here he hits a homer against me," Hernandez said. "It was a slider that stayed right in the middle of the plate."
Late rally comes up short: Colabello made things very interesting in the bottom of the ninth inning with a two-run homer to left field off Mariners closer Fernando Rodney. That brought the tying run to the plate, but Kevin Pillar bunted into an out at first base and pinch-hitter Josh Donaldson flied out to center field as the game came to an end. That was enough for Rodney to pick up his 11th save of the year.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Blue Jays pitching staff has surrendered home runs in eight consecutive games. It's the longest streak since Toronto allowed homers in nine straight games from Sept. 10-19, 2014. The Blue Jays have allowed 56 homers this year, which is the most in the Major Leagues.
"Ideally he plays that on a hop, but the guy's trying to make a play. He knows we're facing a tough pitcher and he's trying to make a play. I like everything about what he's doing since he's been here, he's given us a real big boost. I definitely understand what he was doing." -- Gibbons, on Colabello's diving play in right field, which resulted in a triple for Morrison
"The guy is good. A lot of times he doesn't make it look pretty and he gets your heart racing a little. But he's 11-for-12." -- McClendon, after Rodney survived the two-run homer in the ninth to notch the save
HE LOOKED GOOD STANDING THERE
Mariners shortstop Brad Miller continued his conversion to super utility player by making his first start in center field, having started two games in left and getting some late-inning duty in right for the first time on Thursday. But Miller didn't get a ball hit his way before Justin Ruggiano replaced him in the seventh.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
McClendon challenged a critical play with one out in the ninth when Pillar was ruled safe at first after attempting to dive around Morrison's tag in front of the bag after bunting down the first-base line. The out call was overturned after the replay showed Morrison tagging Pillar's foot as he tried to evade the tag, and Rodney proceeded to get Donaldson to fly out to center to end the game.
Mariners: James Paxton (2-2, 3.59 ERA) brings a 20-inning scoreless streak into Saturday's 10:07 a.m. PT rematch with the Blue Jays. The lanky Canadian has recovered nicely from a slow early start this season and will be looking to erase the memory of his Rogers Centre debut last September when he gave up nine runs (eight earned) in 2 2/3 innings.
Blue Jays: Left-hander Mark Buehrle will take the mound when the Blue Jays continue their series against the Mariners on Saturday at 1:07 p.m. ET. Buehrle appears to have turned a corner recently after struggling during the first month of the season. The veteran lefty has allowed seven runs over his last 19 innings and is coming off a complete-game loss to the Astros.
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