Pinch-hitter Santiago Espinal singled the tiebreaking run in the seventh inning and closer Jordan Romano escaped a ninth-inning jam as the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Seattle Mariners 4-3 on Sunday to avoid a three-game sweep.
Seattle put runners on second and third with one out in the ninth, but Romano struck out Julio Rodríguez with a 2-for-2 slider and retired Eugenio Suárez with a fly out for his 27th save.
«It takes a certain kind of mentality to do that against half their order,» Toronto coach John Schneider said. «He seems to really push and lock it up. He’s one of the best (closers) in the league for a reason.»
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Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Brandon Belt each homered for the second straight game, helping the Blue Jays rebound from blowing late leads in one-run losses Friday and Saturday.
It was another tight match between the teams. Ten of their last 11 meetings have been decided by one run or extra innings, including all six games this season.
«That was a great series,» Seattle manager Scott Servais said. «Every game until the final pitch. Our guys really competed to the point of exhaustion.
«You’re hoping (for) a little more magic at the end. It just didn’t happen today.»
Toronto’s Whit Merrifield led off the seventh with a walk, advanced to second on Daulton Varsho’s sacrifice bunt and scored the go-ahead run on Espinal’s single off reliever Tayler Saucedo.
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Guerrero tied it at 2 in the fourth, hitting a two-run homer that landed just over the right-field wall for his 17th home run. It was his fourth in nine games since he won the All-Star Home Run Derby in Seattle this month.
Belt hit a go-ahead solo home run in the sixth that bounced off the glove of right fielder Teoscar Hernandez on a leapfrog attempt off the wall. It was Belt’s eighth home run of the season.
Seattle pinch hitter Dylan Moore tied the score at 3 in the bottom half with a two-out RBI single.
«It’s a back and forth game with these guys, going back a couple of years,» Schneider said. «Seems like that’s the way we match up.
«I’m glad to get out of here with a win.»
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Mike Ford gave the Mariners an early lead with a two-run home run in the second, hitting a 407-foot home run to right for his 11th of the season.
Tim Mayza (2-1) got the win as a reliever for Toronto.
Toronto right-hander Alek Manoah allowed three runs in 5 1/3 innings in his third start since returning from a month-long relegation to the minors. The 2022 AL Cy Young Award finalist struck out six, walked four and allowed three hits.
Mariners rookie Bryan Woo (1-3) retired Toronto’s first nine batters, but then struggled. He allowed four runs and four hits in six innings while walking one and hitting two batters with pitches. He struck out seven.
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The Blue Jays won at T-Mobile Park for the first time since August 15, 2021. Toronto had lost its previous six games at the stadium, which was once again packed with a large contingent of Blue Jays fans who traveled from Canada for the series.
Toronto catcher Danny Jansen came off with a bruised left forearm after being hit by a pitch in the fifth. He underwent X-rays, which were negative.
Toronto activated newly acquired LHP Génesis Cabrera and sent RHP Nate Pearson to Triple-A Buffalo. Pearson took the loss Saturday, allowing four runs and getting just one out in relief.
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UNTIL NEXT TIME
Blue Jays: RHP José Berríos (8-7, 3.39 ERA) faces Dodgers RHP Michael Grove (2-2, 6.40) on Monday as Toronto opens a three-game series in Los Angeles. Berríos has allowed just three runs in 18 1/3 innings over his last three starts.
Mariners: All-Star RHP Luis Castillo (6-7, 3.04 ERA) faces Twins RHP Kenta Maeda (2-5, 5.10) on Monday to begin a three-game series in Minnesota. Castillo and Maeda met last Wednesday in Seattle, combining for 20 strikeouts in a 6-3 Twins victory.