Seattle strands 14 runners in scoring position in loss to Toronto, 7-2

BLUE JAYS 7, MARINERS 2: Seattle trails Toronto by 1 run after 7 innings, but ultimately is doomed by 0-for-14 effort with runners in scoring position

larry.larue@thenewstribune.comApril 30, 2012 

TORONTO – The best this one got for the Seattle Mariners was when Chone Figgins hit the ninth leadoff home run of his career Sunday and put them ahead of Toronto.

That was the only run Jason Vargas got to work with in what became a Blue Jays 7-2 victory, a game that left the Mariners pondering their inconsistent offense.

With apologies to the poets, when it’s good it is very good, and when it is bad it is horrid.

Afterward, after Seattle had lost the game and the series to Toronto, manager Eric Wedge was feeling overly diplomatic about his team.

“We didn’t play well. We didn’t get runners over, we had RBI opportunities and didn’t take advantage, our defense was definitely sloppy,” Wedge said.

And for all that, after seven innings the Blue Jays’ lead was 2-1.

With Vargas looking for his fourth win, Toronto didn’t get a hit until Figgins misread a fourth-inning fly ball by Eric Thames and had it drop in front of him for a double.

“It wasn’t the ’dome roof, it was the swing,” Figgins said. “... He took a big swing – I broke back. It was one step, but I felt bad.”

Vargas got through that, and worked six innings, allowing only four hits and two runs.

During that time, the Mariners stranded seven runners on base, and for the day they were a combined 0-for-14 with runners in scoring position. As Wedge pointed out, that won’t get it done often.

Meanwhile, the Blue Jays tied it in the fifth inning on second baseman Kelly Johnson’s two-out single, then went ahead 2-1 in the sixth when Edwin Encarnacion continued his long-ball streak against Seattle pitching.

Encarnacion hit his fifth home run Friday night, his sixth Saturday afternoon and, yes. No. 7 off Vargas on a 1-1 pitch Sunday.

“That was one of the only bad change-ups I threw all day,” Vargas said. “I was trying to get it away, and I left it up.”

The Blue Jays made Vargas work, and so did plate umpire Vic Carapazza, whose strike zone was occasionally the size of a soda can. The Jays took a lot of pitches, and Vargas wound up throwing 111 of them.

“I got behind a lot, went 2-0 to a lot of hitters,” Vargas said. “Sometimes, I threw good pitches, but I guess they were balls.”

Right-hander Steve Delabar took over in the seventh inning and ran into major problems in the eighth inning. With one on, one out and Encarnacion at the plate, Delabar let fly a fastball that hit Encarnacion as he tried to dive away.

A crowd of 22,320 booed, umpires jumped between an angry batter and Delabar, and Wedge trotted out to change pitchers, bringing in lefty Charlie Furbush.

A walk loaded the bases, and a double by Brett Lawrie scored two runs. A throwing error by Miguel Olivo – trying to pick a runner off third base – scored a third run.

And then No. 9 hitter Jeff Mathis hit a two-run homer to make it 7-1.

“We just didn’t get it done today,” Wedge said.

The Seattle ninth might as well have been their entire game Sunday. Olivo homered and John Jaso doubled to open the inning – promising, yes?

Effective, no.

With Jaso on second base, Munenori Kawasaki popped out. Figgins jumped out of the way of a wild pitch, with Jaso taking third base, then struck out.

Dustin Ackley, who’d doubled in the first inning, grounded out to end it.

Too little, awfully late.

The Mariners, who swept Detroit and took the first game of their three-game series here, are 4-2 on a trip that now takes them to Tampa Bay for four games.

They will arrive with a .239 team batting average and the knowledge that when they are good, it often coincides with when opposing pitching is poor.

Seattle is 11-12, with one last game this month to reach .500. Pitching for them is Felix Hernandez. Against?

Well, that would be Jeremy Hellickson – 3-0 in his brief career against the Mariners.

No doubt, Wedge will roll out a different lineup than the one he used Sunday, when Alex Liddi was batting fourth and Justin Smoak, Brendan Ryan and Jesus Montero didn’t play at all.

Rookie Montero, the manager said, simply needed a break because the Mariners are in the midst of playing 36 games in 37 days.

What about Smoak (.187) and Ryan (.143)?

“They needed a day off for obvious reasons,” Wedge deadpanned.
Twitter: @LarryLaRue

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