Heading into the sixth inning Friday in Toronto, Seattle fans must have wondered if the Mariners might become the first major league team since the 2001 San Diego Padres (May 12 by Florida; Sept. 3 by St. Louis) to get no-hit twice in the same season. Not only didn’t that happen — Dustin Ackley spoiled Ricky Romero’s bid for a no-no — but the Mariners wound up defeating the Blue Jays 9-5 in the most improbable fashion.
After the Mariners crawled back from a 3-0 deficit to tie the score at 3, then falling behind again 5-3, they tied it at 5 in the top of the ninth, sending the game into extra innings. After consecutive singles in the top of the 10th by Justin Smoak, Jose Montero and Alex Liddi, Michael Saunders parked his second home run of the night, a grand slam, to give the Mariners an amazing come-from-behind victory.
Seattle (11-10), which started this current 10-day, 10-game road trip after four consecutive losses, has won a season-high four in a row.
Of his game-winning salami, Saunders said, “I was just trying to get it into the outfield, and I was able to do that. I was happy with it.”
Since getting “perfecto-ed” by Philip Humber Saturday, the Mariners, who had no hits through five innings against Romero, have had double digits in hits three times, including 11 Friday.
“That perfect game might have been the best thing that ever happened to us,” said Saunders. “We’ve come out swinging ever since.”
The Blue Jays lit the scoreboard in the second when Edwin Encarnacion drilled a Blake Beavan fastball over the center-field fence on a 2-1 count. The Mariners answered in the top of the third when, after walks to Saunders and Miguel Olivo, Saunders scored on a throwing error by Toronto third baseman Brett Lawrie, brother of former UW softball star Danielle Lawrie.
Encarnacion doubled to left in the fourth and Eric Thames singled to center. Both scored on a double to right by Colby Rasmus, giving the Blue Jays a 3-1 advantage.
Seattle shaved the deficit to 3-2 in the seventh when Jesus Montero belted his third home run of the season, a mammoth shot to left center. Then Casper Wells ripped a gapper to right center, scoring Olivo, who had singled, with the tying run. Wells’ double gave him his his first RBI of the season and tied the game at 3.
Ichiro denied the Blue Jays a run in the bottom of the seventh when he nailed J.P. Arencibia, who had reached on a HBP, at the plate after an Adam Lind single.
With the score knotted at 3 in the bottom of the eighth, Seattle reliever Tom Wilhelmsen, who entered with a 1-0 record and 2.08 ERA, surrendered a line-drive home run to Thames. It was the first home run surrendered by Wilhelmsen this season.
Lawrie then singled for Toronto, advanced to third on a wild pickoff attempt by Wilhelmsen, and scored on a sacrifice fly. Toronto 5, Mariners 3.
In the ninth, the Mariners tallied twice on Saunders’ first homer, his third of the season, and on an RBI single by John Jaso, sending the game into extra innings.
In the 10th, the Mariners, who went 3-for-11 with runners in scoring position, loaded the bases, setting up Saunders to belt a slider off Francisco Cordero for the first salami of his career.
“We really worked hard and played it close to the vest, and we stepped up with multiple people,” said manager Eric Wedge, who said of Saunders, “He’s a completely different hitter this year. He’s always been a complete ball player, but his hitting has always been a little bit short. With all the work he did in the offseason, now it isn’t. He got us within a run with his first home run and he won it with his last one.”
Charlie Furbush (2-1) collected the win for Seattle and Brandon League would have had the save, had not Saunders blasted the grand slam.
In the second of the three-game series Saturday, the Mariners will Kevin Millwood (0-1, 7.04) to the mound to contest Brandon Morrow (1-1, 3.71), Seattle’s No. 1 pick in the 2006 amateur draft. The Mariners traded Morrow to the Blue Jays Dec. 23, 2009, in a deal that netted League.
Teams Twice No-Hit In The Same Season