Mariners third baseman Eugenio Suarez finally saw the pitch he wanted. He’d been waiting for the slider from former Seattle reliever Sergio Romo in the 11th inning, and when he saw it over the middle, he was ready.
Suarez hit a towering three-run home run to left field, giving the Mariners a 5-2 walkoff victory over Toronto on Friday night at T-Mobile Park.
It was the 208th career home run for Suarez but his first walkoff, and it extended the Mariners win streak to a season-high six games and pushed them over .500 on the season for the first time since May 2 (when they were 12-11).
As Suarez rounded the bases, he pointed at the sky. Before the game, Suarez told his wife that if he hit a home run during Friday’s game, it would be dedicated to her. That gesture was his dedication.
“That was exciting,” Suarez said. “That was very special … so to do something for her, my daughter, my family, was very exciting.”
The Mariners (43-42) started out strong, with six hits across the first three innings, but managed just one over the next six as their offense hit a wall. In the end, that didn’t matter after Suarez hit his long ball well over the left-field wall. A night after rolling past Toronto in an 8-3 victory, the Mariners used seven different pitchers and held the Blue Jays scoreless in the final six innings.
With a win, the Mariners have won 14 of their past 17 games. Exactly a month ago, the Mariners were five games under .500. That worsened to 10 games by June 19, but strong pitching and timely hitting — despite the absence of many key big hitters — paved the way for the Mariners to get back to .500 on Thursday night.
“It’s a different part of our team picking us up every night,” manager Scott Servais said. “A few weeks ago, everybody was ready to run us out of town, but baseball is a long, long season and you’ve got to keep grinding through it, and our guys have.”
Seattle lost two of three games to Toronto in mid-May, but have won the first two in this series.
It was an odd start for the Mariners offense Friday. Julio Rodriguez sent a ball deep to center field on Ross Stripling’s second pitch of the game, but stumbled and lost his footing just a couple feet short of third base. He tried to crawl over to the base, but was tagged out.
Servais said he couldn’t help but laugh, knowing the moment would be on Rodriguez’s blooper reel for years to come.
Rodriguez gave the Mariners the lead two innings later, though.
After Dylan Moore banged an RBI double off the left field wall to score Suarez in the second inning and tie the score, Rodriguez scored the go-ahead run in the third inning on a double from J.P. Crawford.
Soon after on defense, Rodriguez fielded a ball at center field and unleashed an on-the-money 99.6 mile per hour throw to Suarez which forced a runner out at third base. Suarez, who was down on the ground after a collision with the base runner but soon got up, said it’s the best throw Rodriguez has made all year.
“What a throw,” Servais said. “I [went] out there and I said ‘Eugenio, how’d you catch that ball?’ He said, ‘I don’t know, it went right in my glove.’ ”
Toronto gave the Mariners a scare in the 11th inning with a runner on third with one out, but Ryan Borucki struck out Cavan Biggio and George Springer flew out to deep center to end the threat.
Toronto finished with 12 hits, but only converted that into two runs.
Seattle starter George Kirby pitched 4 1/3 innings, allowing two runs on 10 hits and one walk. He struck out four.
Kirby was pulled after allowing the tying run in the fifth. Right-hander Penn Murfee came in with runners on first and second base. The runners moved up on stolen bases, but Murfee got out of the inning with a strikeout and a fly out.
Andre Munoz, Diego Castillo, Ken Giles, Paul Sewald and Borucki took it from there.
Borucki pitched a scoreless 10th and 11th despite the Blue Jays starting those innings with a runner on second.
Borucki and the Mariners were rewarded with a victory soon after when Suarez got the pitch he was looking for.