Story and Photos by Christian J Stewart (ISN)
August 13, 2014, Seattle, WA (ISN) – Kendrys Morales hit a 2-run home run in the first inning and pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma threw 6 and 2/3 scoreless innings to lead the Seattle Mariners to a 2-0 win over the Toronto Blue Jays and a sweep of their critical three-game series at Safeco Field on Wednesday night in Seattle.
Seattle Mariner’s shortstop Brad Miller leaps over a sliding Munenori Kawasaki of the Blue Jays, as he attempts to turn this double play Wednesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
The win, Seattle’s 65th of the season, was the eighth in nine games on the current home stand and more importantly, allows the Mariners to keep pace with the Tigers, who won earlier Wednesday, for the second AL wild card spot and also puts a three game gap between themselves and the Blue Jays.
Seattle’s Kendrys Morales rounds third as he trots home after hitting a two-run homer in the first inning (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Iwakuma’s performance adds to the impressive resume the Seattle pitching staff is putting together this season, now having not allowed more than three runs in a game for 12 straight games, and leading the Majors in ERA, coming into the game with a team ERA of 2.97.
Seattle pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma was the third Mariner starter in a row to keep the Blue Jays in check, scattering just 5 hits in his 6.2 innings of work (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Iwakuma scattered 5 hits over his 6 and 2/3 innings of work, with the biggest threat coming in the top of the 4th when the Blue Jays Adam Lind and Colby Rasmus would single, but then get stranded on third and second respectively when Munenori Kawasaki would strike out to end the inning.
Toronto catcher Josh Thole would make a nice play on a dribbler in front of home plate, throwing Seattle’s Logan Morrison out at first, while pitcher R.A. Dickey looks on (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
The Jays would threaten again in the 7th, getting runners to first and second, but fine relief work from Seattle’s Danny Farquhar, who induced Jose Reyes to strike out to end the inning, snuffed out any chance the Jays had.
Blue Jays second baseman Munenori Kawasaki turns a 5th inning double play, despite the attempt by Seattle’s Brad Miller to break it up (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
After that it was light’s out, as Yoervis Medina and Fernando Rodney came on to pitch a scoreless 8th and 9th inning respectively to close out the win, with Rodney earning his 35th save of the year. Iwakuma, with the win, moves his record on the season to 11-6 with a 2.72 ERA.
The Seattle win overshadowed another fine, but hard luck, performance on the mound by A.J. Dickey (9-12) who, after allowing three first inning hits, including the home run to Morales, kept the Mariners off the board the rest of his six innings of work, allowing just 4 more scattered hits and 4 walks total while striking out 2. It was the 12th game in a row that Dickey pitched at least six innings and his second consecutive quality start.
Toronto starter R.A. Dickey settled down after a rough first inning, finishing with 2 runs allowed on 7 hits (3 of which came in the 1st) (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Morales’s home run, his second in as many nights and his third of the season, came with two outs, after Austin Jackson led the Mariners off with a single and Dickey retired Dustin Ackley and Robinson Cano on fly balls to centre. Morales would have another hit in the game plus a walk to lead the Mariners offence. Chris Denorfia would also have a pair of hits to improve his career average against Dickey to .500 (4 for 8), tops among the Mariners batters against the knuckleballer.
Seattle’s Chris Denorfia, who had a pair of hits Wednesday, dives safely back into first base on this pick off attempt (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
The Jays power struggles at the plate continued and while Reyes and Lind had a pair of hits each, the rest of the Blue Jays offence went 3 for 26 on the night (.115) and the Blue Jays struck out a total of 10 times, including Jose Bautista, Reyes and Juan Francisco who each went down swinging twice.
The Blue Jays Adam Lind would have his first two hits since rejoining the Jays off the DL in the game against the Mariners on Wednesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
The Jays depart Seattle having now lost 9 of their last 12 games and being outscored 19-4 in the series against the Mariners. They will now get a much needed day of rest, before they head to Chicago to begin a series with the White Sox on Friday.
The Mariners will also have a day off and then hope to ride their recent wave of success into Detroit, where they begin yet another critical series with a team they are neck-and-neck with in the wild card playoff race.
- Victoria native Michael Saunders of the Mariners and his wife welcomed their second child, a baby boy, into the world Tuesday and now he will resume his rehab stint with Tacoma. He has hit .353 with the Rainers in five games, but Seattle Manager LLoyd McClendon says he needs more playing time with the Rainers before being ready to rejoin the club.
- Wednesday’s game featured a ninth inning challenge of a safe call on an infield single by the Blue Jays Kawasaki. The Mariner’s challenged, but the call was upheld.
- Iwakuma came into the game ranked eighth in the AL in ERA, third in WHIP and first in strikeout-to-walk ratio, all of which will improve after his game tonight.
Seattle’s Robinson Cano (left) and Felix Hernandez (right) celebrate following the Mariners 2-0 win and sweep of the Jays (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Blue Jays fan Dylan Shaver was all smiles after getting his souvenir baseball autographed by one of the Jays prior to the game Wednesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Christian J. Stewart is a regular contributor to ISN. Follow him on Twitter @cjs_photography and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/christianjstewartphotography and look for more of his Seattle Mariners photography at http://christianjstewart.zenfolio.com/seattlemariners