August 1, 2012
Jays drop second straight to Mariners
By MIKE RUTSEY, QMI Agency
SEATTLE - The last few days haven’t been particularly bright ones for Blue Jays fans.
For the second consecutive night, they turned up at Safeco Field in droves and for the second consecutive night they might be wondering what all the excitement is supposed to be about.
The Seattle stop on their 10-game tour was supposed to be the easiest, the one where wins dripped from the lowest branches of the coniferous trees. With future games in Oakland and Tampa Bay, a spot where the Jays never win, the Mariners seemed to be the spot for easy pickings.
But hard on the heels of their 4-1 loss on Monday came a 7-2 disaster Tuesday as the Jays find themselves back below .500 and in the basement of the AL East.
Coupled with that were the boring trades made by general manager Alex Anthopoulos, who brought in a couple of relievers to shore up the bullpen.
Even from here I could hear the cries of “Is that all you could get for Travis Snider” that started in Hogtown.
On a day when the last of the trade winds blew various players from spot to spot, Jays starter Aaron Laffey blew a tire and veered off into the ditch.
In his previous six starts, Laffey wavered from mediocre to solid and back again but this night he clearly didn’t have the good stuff.
The first inning pretty much set the tone for both clubs.
The Jays came out against soft-tossing lefty Jason Vargas and went down in order, all three batters the victims of strikeouts.
It was particularly galling for leadoff hitter Brett Lawrie to open up by looking at strike three as he struck out in all four of his at-bats on Monday.
The Mariners, on the other hand, ripped Laffey for a run on his very first pitch as Dustin Ackley pounded it into the seats in right for his seventh home run of the season.
It went downhill for Laffey from there.
“They did a good job stringing some hits together whether they were line drives, balls through the hole,” manager John Farrell said. “We find ourselves down early in the game and it eliminates some of the aggressiveness we might otherwise look to use. Right now we’re getting a high number of strikeouts as well offensively (eight this game, 15 the night before).”
After he retired the first batter in the second inning, Laffey gave up four consecutive hits and a run-scoring groundout that brought three more runs home to give the Mariners a quick 4-0 lead.
His final inning was the fifth and he could have gotten out of it if they had either pulled off a double play or David Cooper had greater range.
But they couldn’t turn two, Cooper had a ball zip by him into right and after Laffey was pulled with the bases loaded, Miguel Olivo drilled a two-run single into centre off Brandon Lyon.
It marked Laffey’s worst start — 4 2/3 innings, nine hits, seven earned runs.
“(Seattle) clearly came out with a game plan which was to jump on a first-pitch fastball,” Farrell said of his right-hander. “They went and attacked him. To their credit they put some good swings on some pitches and like I said they found some holes and they strung together some hits today.”
The high point of the game for the Jays was the excited play of right fielder Moises Sierra who made his major-league debut.
In the third with Jeff Mathis at first, Sierra singled to centre on a 2-2 pitch in his first big league at-bat.
“He stayed inside the base well,” Farrell said. “On his first base hit I thought he fought off a number of pitches and kept the bat in the zone on a changeup for a base hit.”
But the fun for Sierra was just beginning.
Lawrie followed with a line drive into the left field corner that easily scored Mathis. Sierra, probably still charged up from his hit, raced around second, lost his footing and almost crash-landed in front of the shortstop. He regained his footing and despite third-base coach Brian Butterfield holding both arms out in the stop sign, Sierra kept motoring towards the plate, went into a slide and scored the Jays second run.
Butterfield in a perfect pantomime, never as much gave Sierra a glance as he raced on by.
Much like what the Mariners did to the Jays this night.