video thumbnail

SEA@TOR: Figgins rips a lead-off homer to right

TORONTO -- The Mariners didn't give Blue Jays designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion much to hit on Sunday. But when they did, the big man delivered with his third home run in three days to propel Toronto to a 7-2 victory.

Encarnacion's solo shot in the sixth inning off Seattle starter Jason Vargas stood as the go-ahead run on a day he also walked twice and was hit by a pitch. Toronto put the game away with a five-run burst off the Mariners' bullpen in the eighth inning after reliever Steve Delabar plunked the red-hot Encarnacion in the shoulder.

Encarnacion manhandled the Mariners throughout the weekend series, going 5-for-9 with three home runs and seven RBIs.

"He's just seeing the ball well, obviously," said Vargas. "We made some pitches in some situations that he could handle. Unfortunately, probably one of the only bad changeups I threw all night was to him and it was the difference in the game."

"We walked him two times and then we gave him a pitch to hit and he didn't miss it," said catcher Miguel Olivo. "He's hot right now. Every pitch that is close to the plate, he's swinging."

Encarnacion, now tied for second in the American League with seven home runs, wasn't pleased after getting hit by Delabar in his next at-bat in the eighth. But that put runners on first and second with one out in a 2-1 game and Toronto broke things open after Delabar was replaced.

Brett Lawrie launched a bases-loaded, two-run double off Charlie Furbush and Jeff Mathis followed with a two-run home run, with another run scoring on an errant pickoff throw by Olivo in the five-run burst.

The Blue Jays said they were fired up by Delabar's pitch, a 94-mph fastball on a 1-0 pitch.

"Yeah it did," said Lawrie. "We've gotten hit a number of times in the past two games. We've gotten hit three times, so you know, especially the way [Encarnacion's] been going, he's been swinging the bat. Then for a guy to kind of miss like that with 95, up and in toward his head, it raises a bit of a red flag."

Mariners manager Eric Wedge was more concerned with his own team's poor play on a day it went 0-for-14 with runners in scoring position, misplayed two popups and failed to execute the way it had during a four-game win streak to start this 10-game road trip.

"We just didn't play very well all day," Wedge said. "We had a couple opportunities to get runners over and didn't do it. We had some RBI opportunities and didn't take advantage. I didn't feel like we were giving away at-bats, but situationally we weren't very good at all today. And defensively we were sloppy."

Vargas gave up just two runs and four hits in six innings, but Encarnacion's blast to left field left him as the losing pitcher. It was the Mariners' second straight loss as they dropped to 11-12 before heading to St. Petersburg for a four-game set with the Rays.

Outside of the Encarnacion home run, Vargas' only problem seemed to be a rapidly rising pitch count, as he needed 111 pitches to get through six innings.

"I got behind a lot, started a lot of guys 2-0," said the lefty, who is now 3-2 with a 3.38 ERA. "They made me work a little bit, took some pitches. That's just the way it goes sometimes. Sometimes it was me. And sometimes I was making good pitches and they weren't swinging and they were balls, I guess."

Seattle's scoring was limited to a leadoff home run by Chone Figgins and a ninth-inning blast by Olivo, the second of the season for both. In between, the Mariners couldn't get to Toronto starter Henderson Alvarez or the Blue Jays' bullpen, despite having four doubles among their six other hits.

"We had some good hacks at him, but he started changing speeds and taking something off his fastball," said Figgins. "We got runners on, we just couldn't push 'em across."

Vargas said the Mariners simply struggled against two hard-throwing pitchers in Brandon Morrow and Alvarez the past two games, but shouldn't lose sight of how well they played during the first four games of a trip where they still hold a 4-2 record.

"We just ran into guys who pitched well," he said. "Obviously, we can do a better job with runners in scoring position or other things. And on the pitching side, we've got to be able to hold that lead late and come in and shut things down.

"But I'm not worried about it and I don't think anybody in here is worried about it. We've just got to go to Tampa Bay and regroup. If we keep those losing streaks to two, I think we'll be OK." Comments