DH Nelson Cruz crushed a third-inning grand slam and added a three-run bomb in the eighth as the Mariners, who manufactured another five runs in the sixth, rolled to a 14-5 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays Saturday at Rogers Centre (box). Seattle lashed a season-high-tying 19 hits, including three by No. 9 batter SS Shawn O’Malley, in capturing its 16th series win of the season.
Seattle starter Hisashi Iwakuma started in shaky fashion but wound up holding Toronto to two earned runs on four hits for his 11th win. The Mariners, who can sweep the three-game series Sunday, improved to 50-47 with their fourth win in five games. Iwakuma has won five consecutive starts.
With seven RBIs, Cruz fell one shy of the club record of eight accomplished three times, by Alvin Davis vs. Toronto May 9, 1986; Mike Blowers vs. Boston May 24, 1995; and Mike Cameron at New York Aug. 19, 2001.
Facing former Seattle knuckleballer R.A. Dickey in the third, LF Nori Aoki reached on a fielder’s choice. Dickey, who set a Seattle record with four wild pitches Aug. 17, 2008 vs. Minnesota, then hit both RF Seth Smith and 2B Robinson Cano. Cruz followed with his ninth career slam, staking Seattle to a 4-1 lead. Although Toronto subsequently received two home runs from ex-Mariner Michael Saunders and another from ex-Mariner Justin Smoak, Cruz’s work was way too much for the Jays to overcome.
Cruz’s slam was the third by a Mariner this season, following Cano April 26 vs. Houston and Smith July 4 vs. Baltimore. Cruz has 25 homers . . . Aoki went 3-for-6 and drove in a pair of runs, Cano 3-for-4 with a run scored and O’Malley 3-for-5 with a run scored. . . Kyle Seager went 2-for-5 including his 19th homer, a two-run shot in the sixth . . . C Chris Iannetta broke an 0-for-22 with a double in the sixth and a single in the seventh .. . . The Mariners had five consecutive hits — Iannetta double, O’Malley bunt single, Aoki single, Smith single, Cano single — to begin the sixth and finished the frame with five runs for a 9-1 lead. . . The Mariners also had 19 hits June 20 at Detroit . . . Seattle went 9-for-15 with runners in scoring position one day after going 1-for-13.
Iwakuma (11-6, 3.96), allowed four hits, struck out three and walked three among his 98 pitches. He departed with an 11-2 lead and delivered his best moment in the fifth. Toronto had two runners aboard for American League RBI leader Edwin Encarnacion, but Iwakuma fanned him on three pitches to end the inning . . . Wade LeBlanc, who replaced Iwakuma in the seventh, didn’t fare nearly as well, allowing three runs, two on home runs, with only 39 pitches.
“(R.A.) Dickey was not on top of his game and we had a good offensive day against him. It was great to see, a really big offensive day for us. Iwakuma wasn’t as sharp early as he has been, but he made adjustments and had a nice outing. He relaxed once we got a few runs on the board. He’s been our most consistent starter all year.” — Mariners manager Scott Servais
“We needed the runs so it was nice to get that. You just try to put the ball in play and whatever happens after that happens” — Cruz on his third-inning grand slam
The Mariners did not win their 50th game last year until Aug. 4 . . . The Mariners improved to 15-6 vs. the AL East and to 16-11-5 in overall series . . . The Mariners Saturday recalled LHP David Rollins from AAA Tacoma to take the roster spot vacated by SS Ketel Marte, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list Friday after being diagnosed with mononucleosis. Rollins is 1-0 with a 4.05 ERA in eight relief appearances over three stints with the Mariners this season. Rollins earned his first MLB win July 18 vs. Chicago (AL).
The Mariners and Blue Jays conclude the series at 10:07 a.m. PT. LHP Wade Miley (6-7, 5.36) will oppose LHP J.A. Happ (12-3, 3.43), a former Mariner. Following a day off Monday, the Mariners play a two-game series against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park.