TORONTO -- After a red-hot April, Mitch Haniger has been relatively quiet the past week. But the Mariners right fielder walked three times and ripped a run-scoring double in Seattle's 5-2 loss to the Blue Jays on Wednesday.Shortstop Jean Segura had an RBI double in the first inning en route
TORONTO -- After a red-hot April, Mitch Haniger has been relatively quiet the past week. But the Mariners right fielder walked three times and ripped a run-scoring double in Seattle's 5-2 loss to the Blue Jays on Wednesday.
Shortstop Jean Segura had an RBI double in the first inning en route to a 3-for-5 day, and Haniger's team-leading 29th RBI in the third provided the Mariners an early lead before Toronto unloaded on reliever Juan Nicasio with five straight hits to take a decisive lead in the bottom of the eighth.
The loss dropped Seattle to 20-15, but good looks at the plate from Haniger certainly were one welcome sign, as he had hit just .208 (5-for-24) with one double in seven games this month after his robust April.
"The league is paying attention," said Mariners manager Scott Servais. "They're going to pitch him a little more careful, there's no question about that."
Haniger didn't get many pitches to hit in this one, but took advantage when he did, as he drove in Segura with a double off Jaime Garcia that had a 108-mph exit velocity, according to Statcast™.
"I've been feeling good," Haniger said. "I've had some games where I didn't feel like I got a lot of pitches over the heart of the plate, and there are going to be those days when you don't get a couple hits. But I'm just trying to be really selective and hunt that pitch I can drive."
Haniger said he has seen some teams be a little more cautious in their pitch selection with him, though he wasn't sure if that was the case with Garcia or if he was just having trouble locating on a night he issued five walks in five innings.
"I think there are certain situations where they're going to try to be more careful," said Haniger, who moved up to fifth in the order between Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager against the lefty starter. "But at the same time, I'm hitting in the middle of the order with guys all around me who can swing the bat really well. So if you want to walk me, walk me. These guys can do damage in front and behind me, so it's a good spot to hit in."
But on this night, the Mariners totaled only five hits as they suffered just their fourth loss in their past 14 road games.
"We had a lead late in the game and were hoping the guys could lock it down," said Servais. "But Juan just had an off night. He just didn't have much life on the fastball. He left some balls up, and they got on 'em."
The Blue Jays teed off for four doubles and a single leading off the eighth against Nicasio, with the right-hander's only out coming when Kevin Pillar was thrown out by left fielder Guillermo Heredia at second base on what would have been four straight doubles for Toronto.
The Blue Jays wound up with six hits in the frame, the last one coming off Erik Goeddel, as they turned a 2-1 deficit into the 5-2 lead.
Wade LeBlanc was outstanding in his second start since moving from the bullpen to replace the injured Erasmo Ramirez, allowing just one run -- a solo homer by Teoscar Hernandez -- in five innings.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Mariners reliever Nick Vincent worked out of trouble in the seventh after the Blue Jays took advantage of a big turf bounce to turn a line drive to left field into a triple after it went over the head of Heredia. Dalton Pompey then walked to put runners on the corners, but Vincent got Hernandez to fly out to right to preserve the 2-1 lead.
Seattle was 16-1 in games it led after seven innings, thanks to the early-season success of Nicasio and closer Edwin Diaz. But that formula didn't play out on Nicasio's rough night.
HE SAID IT
"I felt much better tonight in terms of stamina. I felt good in the fifth and felt like I had a couple more, but I understand their thought process. Like I've always said, I go until they take [the ball] from me." -- LeBlanc, after throwing 59 pitches in his second start since being shifted from long relief
The Mariners successfully challenged the initial placement of Hernandez at third base after fan interference on a ball hit down the right-field line leading off the sixth. After review, the call was overturned and Hernandez was placed at second. That wound up saving the Mariners a run when Yangervis Solarte lifted a deep fly to center one out later that would easily have scored Hernandez on a sacrifice fly. Instead, Hernandez moved to third on that play and was stranded there when Vincent came on to get Pillar on a lineout to right to end the inning with Seattle leading, 2-1.
Mike Leake (3-3, 6.28 ERA) gets the ball for Thursday's 4:07 p.m. PT series finale against former Mariners lefty J.A. Happ (4-2, 3.67) at Rogers Centre. Leake has gone 1-3 with an 8.70 ERA in his last four starts after opening the season 2-0 with a 3.50 ERA in his first three. He's 1-1 with a 2.40 ERA in two starts vs. the Blue Jays in his career, but hasn't faced them since 2014.
Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.