Jays look for sweep vs. Hernandez, Mariners
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[September 21, 2016]
SEATTLE -- The Toronto Blue Jays
have spent a good part of recent weeks chasing the Boston Red Sox in
the American League East standings and the Baltimore Orioles in the
AL wild-card race.
After Tuesday night, the Blue Jays are beginning to look more like
Their 10-2 win over Seattle put the Blue Jays atop the wild-card
standings and applied a significant blow to the Mariners' playoff
Toronto (83-68) has won two in a row and suddenly is in better
position than it has been in a while.
"With that early game (Wednesday afternoon), this was a big win
tonight," Toronto right fielder Michael Saunders said late Tuesday
night. "It's going to come earlier than usual, and hopefully we can
carry this momentum into (Wednesday)."
The first order of business is to finish off a sweep of the fading
Mariners, who host Toronto in the final game of the three-game
The Blue Jays plan to have starter Aaron Sanchez (13-2) back on the
mound after a blister delayed his latest start. Sanchez got roughed
up his last time out, but his blister problems appear to be somewhat
resolved as he heads into Wednesday's game.
The Mariners (79-72) will counter with No. 1 starter Felix
Hernandez, who hasn't pitched like an ace this season. Hernandez
(11-6) is coming off a forgettable start in the opening game of the
Houston series last Friday, and he needs to step up in one of the
few big-game starts of his career.
Hernandez has never pitched in a postseason game, and most of his
September starts over his 11-year career have come with the Mariners
out of postseason contention.
Seattle is still alive this time around, but the Mariners' chances
are growing slimmer with each loss. They entered the Toronto series
in need of at least two wins, and now the Mariners will just try to
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Mariners starting pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma (18) walks back to the
dugout after being relieved against the Toronto Blue Jays during the
fourth inning at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA
The good news for Seattle is that Baltimore has also fallen on hard
times, so the Mariners are still within striking distance in the
wild-card race. The bad news is that two other teams -- Detroit and
Houston -- have now passed Seattle and are added obstacles.
"It's disappointing, no doubt," Seattle manager Scott Servais said
after Tuesday's loss, "but it is what it is. We've got to get back
to playing good baseball."
The Mariners have scored two runs or fewer in five of their past six
games, and their offense is running out of gas at a bad time.
Tuesday was another example, as Seattle took a 2-0 lead in the
bottom of the third inning but didn't score again the rest of the
Five games against fellow AL wild-card contenders Toronto and
Houston have left the Mariners with a 1-4 record, and Seattle hasn't
looked good in the process.
"That's kind of been the story of our season," Servais said. "We're
either really, really good, or we have some ugly nights."
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