It was an ugly game all-around and an improbable victory as the Blue Jays stormed back to score five unanswered runs from the 5th inning onward. Neither starting pitcher made it to the 5th inning, but it was a late substitution by John Gibbons that made all the difference.
Down 6-4 in the 8th, Russell Martin drew a leadoff walk from Fernando Rodney to bring up Danny Valencia. With Justin Smoak on the bench, Gibby made the...shall we say unorthodox decision to pinch hit with Ezequiel Carrera, and it turned out to be a stroke of genius. Carrera deposited the sixth pitch fastball just over the right field wall for a game tying home run.
Then in 9th, the Jays brought the heart of the order up, and they produced the winning runs. Donaldson led off with a walk, followed by a Bautista double to put the go ahead run 90 feet away with none out. The Mariners elected to walk Encarnacion, to bring up Colabello. And he made them pay, sneaking a two-run ground ball single up the middle. They couldn't tack on anything more, but it didn't matter as Roberto Osuna closed out the Mariners in the bottom of the inning.
Drew Hutchison, battling the flu, turned in another poor road start allowing runs in each of his four innings. He struggled throughout with poor command despite racking up whiffs and strikeouts early. From the very start, things almost went downhill quickly as Hutchison allowed line drives to the first three hitters to load the bases. He limited the damage to one, getting a strikeout before allowing a sac fly. Another walk followed, but Logan Morrison went after the first pitch and grounded out weakly.
In the 2nd, Hutchison struck out the side, but sandwiched around a solo shot to Jesus Sucre (one-for-28 coming in) and a walk. A three true outcomes inning if there ever was one. A leadoff error by Devon Travis on a routine ground ball in the 3rd came around to score, but otherwise Hutchison looked okay. He got the first two batters of the 4th easily, and it appears he might be settling in.
Alas, it was not to be. Kyle Seager hit a line drive single, and Nelson Cruz got plunked to bring up Robinson Cano. He landed the knockout blow, a fly ball into the first row in left field for a three-run home run to put Seattle up 6-3. His line was 4 innings, 7 hits, 6 runs / 5 ER, 2 BB, 1 HBP, 4 K and 2 home runs allowed.
Opposing Hutchison was our old friend J.A. Happ, who turned in a vintage Jekyll & Happ outing. He started by easily setting the Blue Jays down in order in a nine pitch top of the 1st, and got Edwin Encarnacion to ground out starting the 2nd. Then things completely unraveled for him. Chris Colabello and Russell Martin drew back-to-back walks, and Danny Valencia snuck a ground ball into left field to score Colabello and knot things up. Happ hit Kevin Pillar to reload the bases, and walked Devon Travis to force in another run. He recovered to strikeout Jose Reyes, but then walked Donaldson to force in a third run, and it was the end of his afternoon.
Fortunately for him, the bases were left loaded as Bautista struck out. All in all, it was 43-pitch inning featuring five free baserunners. And then there's Happ's glacial pace that made for an almost half hour inning. I know he's been quite good this year (4.12 ERA / 3.65 FIP coming in), but that alone was enough to not make me miss him at all.
The difference in this one was thus the bullpens. Whereas the last four Seattle relievers combined to allow five runs, four Blue Jays relievers slammed the door for five two-hit innings:
- Liam Hendriks only needed 19 pitches to get through two perfect innings with two strikeouts
- Brett Cecil went one inning, with one hit and one strikeout
- Aaron Sanchez threw in the upper 90s while getting squeezed some by Jim Joyce, and ended up getting the win
- Roberto Osuna picked up the save with a walk (again, squeezed some) and strikeout
Jays of the Day: Ezequiel Carrera (+0.324 WPA), Josh Donaldson (+0.192, 1/3, 2B, 2 BB), Jose Bautista (+0.125, 1/5, 2B). Collabelo (+0.083) gets one too for the game winning hit. Devon Travis (+0.142) has the number, but made the costly error exacerbating the troubles of a struggling pitcher.
Suckage: Drew Hutchison (-0.577) and Jose Reyes (-0.142, 1/5 with a BB)
Tomorrow the Jays go for the series win with Mark Buehrle taking on Taijuan Walker at 4:05 ET.