When the Mariners arrived back in Seattle for an important nine-game homestand, they knew if they wanted to stay in the playoff conversation they could no longer be underachievers at home.
After winning seven of eight, the Mariners are more than in the conversation. They are over .500 at home and tied with Detroit for the second wild card spot in the American League.
Kyle Seager and Kendrys Morales hit solo home runs, Dustin Ackley added a key two-out two-run single, and the Mariners beat the Toronto Blue Jays 6-3 on Tuesday night.
“It’s awesome. It’s a whole new ballgame when it means something and you get in here and you’re pumped and you look and see what everyone else is doing and where you stand,” Ackley said. “It’s a lot more fun. Baseball is always fun but it makes it that much more enjoyable when you’re actually in it.”
Seattle (64-55) matched its season high of nine games over .500, getting another solid performance from veteran Chris Young, who earned his 11th victory. The Mariners also continued their recent offensive punch.
Seager’s 18th homer gave Seattle a 2-1 lead in the fourth. Ackley followed an inning later, going to the opposite field to drive in a pair.
Morales capped the night with his first homer since being acquired by the Mariners in a trade with Minnesota in late July. It was Morales’ first homer since June 24, snapping a career-high, 41-game drought without a long ball.
“The one thing we talked about coming home off the road is we need to start protecting our house,” Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon said. “We just had not been very good at home. I think the guys were conscious of that.”
Young (11-6) pitched six strong innings, allowing just two hits. He yielded a first-inning run after walking Jose Reyes on four pitches and giving up Melky Cabrera’s RBI double to start the game. Young retired 14 straight after Cabrera’s double, the streak snapped when Juan Francisco doubled in the fifth.
Young struck out three and walked two, and won his third straight decision.
Charlie Furbush got four outs with ease but Brandon Maurer gave up three hits in the eighth, capped by Jose Bautista’s RBI double. Toronto added another run on Nolan Reimold’s sacrifice fly, but Francisco Rodney pitched the ninth for his 33rd save.
Logan Morrison extended his hitting streak to 13 games, with a single in the third, and scored on Austin Jackson’s hit-and-run single that Colby Rasmus misplayed in centre field. Morrison doubled in the fifth, but was caught in a rundown between third and home on Jackson’s grounder. Morrison stayed in the rundown long enough for Chris Taylor and Jackson to get into scoring position, and Ackley plated both with a single to left field on a pitch he probably would have missed earlier in the season.
“It came down to Ackley’s hit right there,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said. “They have a good pitching staff and we have to score for ours.”
Toronto starter J.A. Happ (8-7) gave up seven hits and struck out only one in six innings after recording 12 strikeouts in his last start.
McClendon earned his 400th career win as a manager. He was presented the game ball by Robinson Cano in the clubhouse and then was showered by his players in celebration.
THREE OR LESS
Seattle extended its club record with an 11th straight game giving up three runs or less. Seattle is 8-3 during the stretch with a staff ERA of 1.93.
Blue Jays: Adam Lind (foot) was activated off the 15-day disabled list and batted fourth. Lind went hitless in three at bats.
Mariners: LHP Roenis Elias was optioned to the minors recently in an effort to control his innings. Elias will throw a few innings later this week at Triple-A Tacoma and likely rejoin the Seattle rotation next week in Philadelphia.
Blue Jays: RHP R.A. Dickey (9-11) got a no decision in his last start against Detroit despite allowing just two earned runs. Dickey’s last win came on July 28 against Boston.
Mariners: RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (10-6) is looking to continue a strong stretch. Over his last eight starts, Iwakuma is 5-2 with a 2.04 ERA and he has pitched at least seven innings in his past seven starts.