Kendrys Morales, Ezequiel Carrera and Justin Smoak homered to provide all the Blue Jays’ runs.
The Mariners’ quest to climb over .500 for the first time this season will have to wait at least two more games.
Playing in a sold-out Safeco Field with a crowd of 45,480 on Saturday night, though at least 60 percent were cheering for its opponent, Seattle couldn’t quite break that elusive barrier of having a winning record.
And three players who were once part of the Mariners’ organization were the reason for the 4-2 loss to the Blue Jays.
Kendrys Morales, Ezequiel Carrera and Justin Smoak homered to provide all the Blue Jays’ runs. Those were three of Toronto’s four hits.
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“They certainly have a lot of power,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “A couple of mistakes over the middle of the plate hurt us. We battled and we competed our tail off and it was a very good ballgame, but it just wasn’t our night. They got the big hits. We will come back tomorrow and try to win the series.”
With the loss, Seattle fell to 31-32. It was the fourth time the Mariners had a chance to crawl above .500 and failed. The Mariners turn to lefty James Paxton as they close out their longest homestand of the season.
“We got Big Maple on the mound tomorrow,” Servais said. “We’ll see how that works out.”
Morales, a former Mariners designated hitter who had some success in his first season in Seattle in 2013 and not as much when they re-acquired him midway through 2014, crushed a two-run homer off Mariners starter Ariel Miranda in the fourth inning to give Toronto a 2-1 lead.
“The ball ran a little bit,” Miranda said through interpreter Fernando Alcala. “It was supposed to be on the outside of the plate and it ran back in toward his barrel and he made good contact.”
Carrera was a sort-of prospect for the Mariners, acquired from the Mets as part of the big three-team trade featuring J.J. Putz and Franklin Gutierrez in 2009.
He seemed destined to ride the shuttle from Class AAA to the back of a big-league roster as a backup outfielder. He was traded to the Indians for Russell Branyan in 2010. Not known for his power, Carrera broke a 2-2 tie in the seventh inning, crushing a solo homer to right off reliever Tony Zych. It was his fifth of the season. His career high is six.
“I was trying to go and throw a four-seamer in and it leaked back over the plate,” Zych said. “It wasn’t the best pitch, and he got it and put a good swing on it.”
Smoak was the marquee piece of the trade that sent Cliff Lee to Texas in 2009 and the expected foundation-level player at first base for the Mariners going forward. But he never quite achieved the organization’s or fans’ lofty expectations.
But he’s having a breakthrough season. He added an insurance run in the ninth inning, hammering a solo homer to right off Steve Cishek. It was his 18th homer of the season.
“Our bullpen has been so good and we haven’t really seen any hiccups down there, but there was a couple of mistakes,” Servais said.
Toronto got an outstanding start from right-hander Marcus Stroman, who was never part of the Mariners’ organization. Stroman pitched seven innings, allowing two runs (one earned) on six hits with no walks and six strikeouts to improve to 7-2. It was the 10th time this season he’s allowed two or fewer runs in a start.
“He really competes and he does it with four different pitches and uses them all at any time,” said Jarrod Dyson. “It’s a battle.”
Seattle grabbed a 1-0 lead in the second inning. Nelson Cruz led off the inning with a single and then advanced to second on a wild pitch. Kyle Seager followed with a single up the middle that allowed Cruz — hobbling to not irritate his sore right calf — to score from second.
Miranda worked 61/3 innings, allowing two runs on two hits with five walks and two strikeouts.
It was a solid outing except for a two-inning stretch when he couldn’t locate his fastball and when he did, he left it up in the zone. In the third, he issued back-to-back, one-out walks to put himself in trouble. But third baseman Kyle Seager made a brilliant diving stab of Josh Donaldson’s line-drive rocket to save two potential runs and end the inning.
But in the next inning, Morales hit his two-run shot to give Toronto the lead.
For the fourth time this season, the Mariners missed an opportunity to get above .500. A look at those four chances, including their record before the defeat.
|April 3||0-0||L, 3-0 at Houston|
|May 11||17-17||L, 7-2 at Toronto|
|June 8||30-30||L, 2-1 vs. Minn.|
|June 10||31-31||L, 4-2 vs. Toronto|