BY SPNW Staff 04:39PM 04/28/2012

Morrow Rubs Mariners Noses In It Again, 7-0

The Mariners never could figure out whether Brandon Morrow was better suited to start or relieve, and spent three years yo-yoing him between the rotation and the bullpen in an attempt to find out. Unable to solve the problem, the Mariners traded him to the Blue Jays in 2009 for Brandon League. Morrow is now 3-0, 1.89 ERA — as a starter — against the team that couldn’t make up its mind after he blitzed through Seattle batters Saturday, winning 7-0.

The Mariners (11-11) never could get anything going against Seattle’s first-round draft pick in 2006, who departed after six innings with a 3-0 lead, and then watched Edwin Encarnacion, who finished with five RBIs, add to Mariner gloom by hitting a grand slam off reliever Hisashi Iwakuma in the bottom of the eighth.

Toronto’s victory snapped Seattle’s season-high four-game winning streak and saddled the Mariners with their fourth shutout of the year. Since 2009, the Mariners are 2-9 in the Rogers Center.

Morrow permitted just five hits, two for extra bases, did not walk a batter and whiffed nine, throwing 66 of his 104 pitches, most of them in the mid-to-high 90s, for strikes. That, plus the fact that three Toronto relievers allowed the Mariners just one hit over the final three innings, was way too much for Seattle starter Kevin Millwood, who pitched a decent game — three runs on seven hits with four strikeouts in 7.0 innings.

Millwood’s undoing came in the third, a frame in which Toronto tallied a trio.

Millwood began his unraveling by giving up singles to Yunel Escobar and Kelly Johnson. Escobar came across on a fielder’s choice and throwing error by Kyle Seager. Adam Lind then doubled home Johnson. Jose Bautista, who had reached on the fielder’s choice, scored on a sacrifice fly by Encarnation, whose big blow came five innings later.

In the bottom of the eighth, Milwood having departed with what would become his second loss(against no wins), Johnson greeted Iwakuma with a single to center. Bautista then banged a ground-rule double that sent Johnson to third.

After Iwakuma intentionally walked Lind, the Seattle reliever tried to throw a 91 mph four-seam fastball past Encarnacion, who laced it into the right-field seats.

After generating a relative ton of offense in fashioning a four-game winning streak, Mariner bats fell largely silent. The Mariners hit .239 for the game and left eight runners stranded, all of whom were in scoring position. Only Ichiro (2-for-4) and Seager 2-for-3) had multi-hit games.

The Mariners wind up their three-game series with Toronto Sunday in a game that will start at 10:05 a.m. PT. Seattle’s Jason Vargas (3-1, 3.45 ERA) will go after his fourth victory, and in that pursuit will oppose RHP Henderson Alvarez (0-2, 4.10), who sports a .216 opponent batting average despite the two defeats.


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