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Toronto Blue Jays' Russell Martin slides safely into home during the eighth inning of a game in Toronto, on May 9, 2018.Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press

Outdoor baseball made its 2018 debut at Rogers Centre on a breezy Wednesday night and the Toronto Blue Jays added to the festive-like atmosphere by gutting out a 5-2 victory over the Seattle Mariners.

After getting no-hit some 24 hours earlier, the Blue Jays were desperate to get back in the win column and halt a recent slide in which they dropped five of seven and lost ground in the American League East.

And after squandering numerous chances early in the game, the Blue Jays broke through with a demonstrative four-run eighth inning, which featured four doubles that erased a 2-1 Seattle margin.

“We needed it as a team,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said of the win that lifted the Blue Jays’ record to 20-17. “But they held us in check pretty good too, early – came to life late.”

Josh Donaldson began the eighth inning hit brigade with a double off Juan Nicasio, the new Seattle reliever. Yangervis Solarte then doubled, going the opposite way to left field to easily cash Donaldson with the tying run.

Justin Smoak then doubled to centre field to bring home Anthony Alford, pinch-running for Solarte, with the winning run before a Kevin Pillar single carded another run.

Russell Martin then clubbed the inning’s fourth double before he was driven in on a single by Luke Maile. That ended the hitting carousel and evened the three-game series at 1-1.

It was a rags-to-riches story for the Toronto offence that could do very little after the fourth inning when a Teoscar Hernandez home run cut a 2-0 Seattle lead in half.

The roof at Rogers Centre was rolled open for the first time this season under slightly overcast skies over downtown Toronto where the game-time temperature was a sweater-inducing 17 Celsius.

Before the game, the Blue Jays completed a minor deal, obtaining infielder Gio Urshela from the Cleveland Indians for a player to be chosen later or cash considerations

Urshela, 26, had recently been designated for assignment by Cleveland after opening the year on the disabled list. He made 42 plate appearance at Triple A, hitting .324.

Primarily a third baseman, Urshela can also play at short and second base and will likely be Toronto’s utility infielder now that shortstop Aledmys Diaz has joined Troy Tulowitzki on the disabled list.

Gibbons, whose team was coming off a no-hitter thrown at them the night before by Canadian James Paxton, cobbled together a makeshift lineup for the game.

In order to give Donaldson and his suspect throwing (right) shoulder a break, the third baseman took up the reins as the designated hitter. Martin, usually the catcher, started the night at third base for the first time this season.

Martin did not look out of place, either, making a terrific bare-handed catch on a soft infield grounder by Guillermo Heredia in the sixth inning and then firing a laser to first base for the inning’s third out.

Dalton Pompey, recalled from Triple A on Friday, got his second start in left for the Blue Jays.

Jaime Garcia, the Toronto starter coming off a season-low 3⅓-innings outing in his last start against Cleveland, walked the tightrope early against Seattle.

He struck out Dee Gordon leading off the game but his low throw in the dirt evaded catcher Luke Maile and Gordon got to first on the wild pitch.

Jean Segura, the next batter, took the first pitch he saw from Garcia and launched a hit just inside the bag at third that spelled trouble from the outset.

Gordon revved up his jets on the double and headed for home as Pompey tracked the ball down in the left field corner. Gordon’s baserunning instincts served him well as he easily beat the throw home in a slide for a quick 1-0 Seattle lead as Segura cruised into third base on the relay.

After Segura got tagged out near home plate following a heads-up up defensive play by Toronto shortstop Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Garcia proceeded to walk Mitch Haniger before hitting Kyle Seager with a pitch to load the bases.

That brought Gibbons out to the mound right smartly to impart some advice to his reeling starter.

“Throw the damn ball over the plate,” Gibbons said later when asked what he told Garcia. “It’s simple, but it’s not quite that simple.”

Garcia heeded the advice and struck out Ryon Healy looking to limit the damage to just one run.

In the top of the third, Segura pounded the ball into the dirt just up the third-base line. Garcia moved in to gather the ball, but his throw to first was off line and Segura took second on the throwing error.

Segura scored when John Haniger clubbed a ground-rule double to centre to increase Seattle’s lead to 2-0.

Garcia’s night was over after five innings. And although he only allowed the two runs off three hits he kept the Blue Jays close despite serving up five walks. Of Garcia’s 92 pitches, only 50 were for strikes.

Toronto Raptors coach Dwane Casey says no one from the organization has told him he won’t be returning next season after the team's playoff elimination. Raptors president Masai Ujiri says everything will be evaluated in the off-season.

The Canadian Press

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