James Paxton covered up some dreadful situational hitting by the Mariners with seven effective innings that included nine strikeouts as Seattle registered a 2-1 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays Friday night at Rogers Centre (box). Closer Steve Cishek clinched it in the ninth when, with two runners aboard, he fanned former Mariner Michael Saunders on a 2-2 pitch to end the game.
The Mariners (49-47), who went an abysmal 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position and stranded 10, have won three of their past four and are 17-18 in one-run games. Their 35 one-run contests are the most in the majors.
Cishek inherited a 2-1 lead in the ninth and struck out Darwin Barney and Josh Donaldson. But he walked American League RBI leader Edwin Encarnacion and allowed a single to Troy Tulowitzki before getting Saunders, who had a solo home run off Paxton in the second inning, to chase a ball out of the strike zone.
With the Mariners leading 2-1 in the bottom sixth, the Blue Jays placed runners on second and third with two outs after a Donaldson double. That brought up Encarnacion. Paxton fanned him with his ninth strikeout.
In the sixth, the Mariners loaded the bases with one out (3B Kyle Seager single, CF Leonys Martin walk, C Mike Zunino hit by pitch), but failed to score when SS Shawn O’Malley fanned and LF Nori Aoki flew out to center . . . Aoki went 2-for-4 with a double (9th) and a triple (4th) and scored a run . . . DH Nelson Cruz produced Seattle’s only other multi-hit game (2-for-4) with a pair of singles . . . RF Seth Smith recorded his 200th career double.
Paxton, Edwin Diaz and Cishek combined to allow four hits . . . Paxton allowed one run on three hits over seven innings, fanned nine and walked one. He threw 97 pitches, 64 for strikes and lowered his ERA to 4.18. Paxton’s nine strikeouts fell one short of his season high, set June 6 vs. Cleveland . . . Diaz had two strikeouts in his one inning. . . Cishek’s save was his 23rd . . . LHP Wade Miley has been named to start Sunday in the series finale at Toronto. He takes Mike Montgomery’s slot in the rotation. The Mariners traded Montgomery to the Chicago Cubs earlier in the week.
“We had enough to get it done tonight, but we should have picked up more runs. That was the best curveball we’ve seen from Paxton all year. Paxton made some huge pitches in the sixth inning. The difference with Paxton was the depth of his breaking ball. Cishek also did a great job.” — Mariners manager Scott Servais
“I was just being aggressive, going at them with my best stuff, so they couldn’t key on one pitch. It’s cool to get a win in Canada.” — Seattle starter James Paxton, a native of Ladner, British Columbia.
The Mariners can win their 16th series of the season Saturday. They are 15-11-5 in overall series this season . . . The Mariners Friday placed SS Ketel Marte on the 15-day disabled list after he was diagnosed with mononucleosis. Marte complained of a sore throat following Sunday’s loss at Houston and didn’t play in the series against the White Sox that followed. Servais said there is no timetable for Marte’s return. The second-year player is batting .273 with one homer and 19 RBIs.
The middle game of the series is Saturday at 10:07 a.m., PT. RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (10-6, 4.01) will oppose RHP R.A. Dickey (7-10, 4.11), who pitched for Seattle in 2008. The Mariners also face an ex-Mariner Sunday in LHP J.A. Happ (2015).