Fatigued after playing 19 innings and flying cross country, the Toronto Blue Jays were in trouble once Felix Hernandez was handed the lead.
“With Felix out there, you give those guys a lead they put it away,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said.
Hernandez allowed one run in seven strong innings and Robinson Cano helped provide him with a jolt of run support as the Seattle Mariners romped to an 11-1 victory over the Blue Jays on Monday night.
Opening the most anticipated August series in Seattle since 2007, Hernandez (13-3) made his 16th straight start of at least seven innings while allowing two earned runs or less. Hernandez needed just 96 pitches to get through seven and his only mistake was Jose Bautista’s solo home run in the fourth.
The only other Toronto batter to get a hit was Colby Rasmus, who had two and is now 7 for 10 against Hernandez. King Felix struck out eight, walked none and lowered his ERA to 1.95 for the season. Hernandez is 9-2 with a 1.41 ERA during the 16-game streak.
Seattle remained one game back in the chase for the second AL wild card while Toronto dropped two games back.
“That was unreal. That was pretty good,” Hernandez said. “We’re fighting. We’re going to continue to fight and do the little things.”
A day after going 19 innings to beat Detroit at home and not arriving to Seattle until 12:30 a.m. local time, Bautista’s 23rd homer was the only highlight for Toronto. The Blue Jays wouldn’t use fatigue as an excuse but it was clear there was little punch after Seattle took the lead.
And for a change, Hernandez wasn’t left wondering if Seattle would score enough.
Cano ignited a seven-run sixth inning with his 10th homer of the season for a 3-1 lead.
That was just the start. Mike Zunino followed with an RBI triple — the second triple of his career — and an RBI double by Endy Chavez ended the night for Toronto starter Drew Hutchison (8-10).
Seattle’s biggest inning since an eight-run outburst May 3 against Houston was just getting started. Brad Miller lined an RBI triple and Dustin Ackley brought home two runs with a single. Cano came up again, and after stepping out of the box while a lightning bolt and thunder crackled outside the stadium, just missed a second homer in the inning by inches with a RBI double off the wall.
When the inning was done, Seattle had sent 11 batters to the plate, scored seven times, had two doubles, two triples a home run and a single.
“We lot big tonight and I had a hard night,” Hutchison said. “It’s disappointing.”
LHP Brad Mills threw 2 1-3 innings of relief replacing Hutchison, giving up five runs, and was promptly designated for assignment after the game. Mills had been brought up from Triple-A Buffalo to help Toronto’s bullpen.
“Bringing in Brad Mills to finish out the game, that didn’t go so well,” Gibbons said.
Blue Jays: 1B Adam Lind (foot) is expected to join the team on Tuesday in Seattle, and 1B Edwin Encarnacion (quad) is still on track to rejoin the team Friday in Chicago.
Mariners: OF Michael Saunders (oblique) will have his rehab assignment delayed by a few days. He was set to leave Triple-A Tacoma to be with his wife for the birth of their child.
Blue Jays: J.A. Happ (8-6) has thrown at least seven innings in each of his past two starts, but has just one victory since June 26. He’s given up three earned runs combined in his last two starts and the Blue Jays have lost both games.
Mariners: Chris Young (10-6) is 5-2 with a 2.79 ERA in his last 10 starts. Young has reached 11 victories only twice in his career.