SEATTLE - The Toronto Blue Jays scored early and they scored often.
Every time the Seattle Mariners threatened, the Jays’ offence found another gear.
As the slugfest at Safeco Field meandered toward a conclusion, one thing was clear: Toronto was not going to risk another close finish.
Just 24 hours after Toronto’s 24th blown save of the year resulted in a gut-wrenching 6-5 defeat, the Jays steamrolled the Mariners 13-7 Tuesday to even this three-game series at a win apiece.
In the process, Jays Aaron Hill and Colby Rasmus broke out of recent slumps, each driving in four runs. Jose Bautista chimed in with his 35th home run of the year and every one of the club’s starters had at least one hit by the sixth inning.
The lone Toronto casualty this night was starting pitcher Brad Mills, who was staked to a 6-0 lead before he even threw a pitch, but was gone in three innings after squandering that lead.
Jays reliever Luis Perez picked up his fellow lefty and allowed just one more run while his teammates continued to mash.
The Jays came out swinging in the first inning and ruined Mariners starter Jason Vargas’ evening within a matter of minutes. With one out, Eric Thames set the tone, ripping a single into right. Bautista walked. They each moved up a base on Adam Lind’s groundout. Vargas, pitching carefully, walked Edwin Encarnacion to get to lefthanded hitting Rasmus, and paid dearly for it.
With the count 2-2, Rasmus drilled a double into right-centre field, clearing the bases. Brett Lawrie, who finished with three hits, followed with an RBI single into centre. Then Hill, mired in a 6-for-36 slide, smashed his sixth homer of the year to make it 6-0, before Arencibia made the final out in a bat-around inning.
Seattle cut that lead in half in the bottom of the second. After Mike Carp walked leading off, Casper Wells hit his ninth homer of the year off Mills. Two pitches later, Miguel Olivo knocked his 15th homer over the wall in left-centre to make it 6-3.
The Mariners scored three more runs in the third to tie it on four singles and a walk, chasing Mills from the game.
“(Mill) is the type of guy who has to pitch ahead in the count and he’s got to pitch down to take advantage of his changeup,” said Jays manager John Farrell. “He has some deception through the strike zone but it’s not overpowering stuff and he’s got to keep balls out of the middle of the plate.”
The Jays sent eight men to the plate and scored four times in the fifth to take the lead for good. Rasmus’s bases-loaded sacrifice fly, a wild-pitch, another sac fly by Hill and a single by J.P. Arencibia made it 10-6.
Meanwhile, Perez silenced the Seattle offence.
“The four innings by (Perez) is probably the story in tonight’s game,” said Farrell. “It looked like it was going to be one of those nights where we couldn’t score enough but then he closed the door on them.
“There’s such balance and depth throughout the lineup. We have the ability to do damage one through nine and that’s the ideal scenario. Once we took the lead again, it was (Perez) who really set the tone and stabilized the game for us from the mound.”
Farrell did not rule out giving Perez a look as a starter at some point.
“We’re in a little bit of a state of flux with our pitching. There are a number of things still to digest before we go to that next step.”