The Mariners opened the sixth week of the season with two impressive victories, but ended it with four consecutive losses to fall nine games out of first in the AL West.
The Mariners reached the .500 mark (17-17) for the first time in 2017 when they twice beat the Philadelphia Phillies, but then dropped four in a row at Toronto, including a 3-2 walk-off loss Sunday (box) to finish the week 17-21 and nine games out in the AL West. Part of Seattle’s collapse in Toronto: An avalanche of injuries to the pitching staff, leaving Seattle with the AL’s second-worst team ERA (4.67). Another part: Leaving 32 runners on base, a consequence of going 4-for-35 (.114) with runners in scoring position.
Tuesday (Mariners 10, Phillies 9): Taylor Motter produced a go-ahead double in the ninth, Ben Gamel had four hits and the Mariners twice overcame two four-run deficits. Gamel had a three-run homer, two singles, a double and scored three runs. The right fielder also threw out the potential go-ahead run at home in the eighth.
Wednesday (Mariners 11, Phillies 6): Carlos Ruiz hit a three-run double against his old team, and Robinson Cano and Danny Valencia homered. Ruiz, who spent most of his career in Philadelphia, cleared the bases with a liner off the left-field wall in the seventh, sparking a fourth consecutive victory.
Thursday (Blue Jays 7, Mariners 2): Steve Pearce had a three-run home run and ex-Mariner Justin Smoak hit a solo shot and drove in four runs as the Blue Jays prevented the Mariners from climbing above .500 for the first time. Nelson Cruz hit a two-run homer in the first, but Seattle’s offense otherwise was smothered.
Friday (Blue Jays 4, Mariners 0): Joe Biagini and four relievers combined on a seven-hitter and Jose Bautista hit a two-run homer. The Mariners going 0-for-7 with RISP.
Saturday (Blue Jays 7, Mariners 2): Jose Bautista broke a 2-2 tie with a three-run homer off Nick Vincent in the seventh inning. Former Mariner Kendrys Morales also connected. The Mariners lost another starting pitcher when Ryan Weber, making his Seattle debut, left after 3.2 innings with an injured bicep.
Sunday (Blue Jays 3, Mariners 2): Kevin Pillar hit a ninth-inning, walk-off homer off of closer Edwin Diaz, giving the Blue Jays a four-game sweep. Smoak continued to plague Seattle — missing 2B Robinson Cano for the fourth consecutive game (right quadriceps) — bashing a two-run homer off James Pazos in the sixth.
Hisashi Iwakuma went on disabled list Wednesday with inflammation in his right shoulder, but by Saturday it had been determined he will miss four to six weeks. With four members of the starting rotation on the DL (Iwakuma, Felix Hernandez, James Paxton and Drew Smyly), GM Jerry Dipoto dipped into AAA Tacoma again Saturday for 26-year-old Ryan Weber. He was claimed off waivers last winter from Atlanta, and became the ninth starting pitcher used by the Mariners this season, tying the Toronto Blue Jays for most in the majors. The injury jinx in full effect, Weber departed after 3.2 innings with a sore shoulder.
In 2016, the Mariners used 12 starting pitchers. According to team research, in only two other years did the Mariners use as many as nine starters within the first 40 games of a season: 10 in 1977 and nine in 1995.
In addition to employing nine starters, the Mariners have used 17 relievers. They used 19 all of last season when they set the club mark for most pitchers used — 32. This year, they are at 23.
Even with four starters on the DL, the Mariners are 15-13 since starting the season 2-8, including 9-8 without Hernandez and 4-5 without Paxton.
Innings of the week
Mariners 9th Tuesday: With the score 9-9, Jean Segura had a one-out single off Hector Neris. After Gamel grounded out to first, sending Segura to second, Motter doubled to left for the game-winning RBI.
Mariners 7th Wednesday: Cano led off the seventh with a single off former Mariner Joaquin Benoit. After Kyle Seager walked,Valencia lined an RBI double to right to give the Mariners a 4-3 lead. Guillermo Heredia flied out and Jarrod Dyson was intentionally walked, setting the stage for Ruiz. His liner missed being a grand slam by a few feet.
Blue Jays 5th Thursday: Toronto overcame a 2-1 deficit by scoring five times during a two-out rally. Smoak lined a bases-loaded single over SS Segura and Pence followed with a home run.
Blue Jays 7th Saturday: With the score 2-2, reliever Nick Vincent, who a string of 13 scoreless innings, allowed his first home run of the season, a three-run shot to Bautista.
Blue Jays 9th Sunday: With the score 2-2, Diaz came on in place of Tony Zych and got two quick ground-ball outs, then surrendered a game-losing home run to Pillar.
Good week/Bad week
Good: Gamel had four hits, including a homer, and scored three times Tuesday, and came back Wednesday with two hits, two walks and two runs scored. Gamel reached base in nine of his 12 plate appearances in Philadelphia, and had two more hits, including an RBI double, Saturday in Toronto. Bad: Chase De Jong, provided a 2-0, first-inning lead Thursday in Toronto, came apart in the fifth when he allowed the Blue Jays five earned runs with two outs. De Jong is 0-3 with a 7.85 ERA in five appearances, including three starts in place of injured King Felix.
Not in the box score
“He’s had a few breakout games. But this was an awesome night. The four hits, the big throw out at the plate, he’s in a really good spot. He’s seeing the ball well and not trying to do too much.” – Manager Scott Servais, after Gamel’s four-hit night
“We’ve got a lot of young guys here and I don’t think we really know how to give up. It’s just a hard-nosed battle for all of us. We’re blue-collar guys who want to win ballgames. I think that’s where it comes from.” – Motter, after the Mariners twice came from four runs down to beat Philadelphia
“I kind of feel like my legs were not on the ground — it was real special. That was huge for my team and also to see the ovation from the fans, their support. I said thank you to them, because they were real good to me when I was here.” – Catcher Carlos Ruiz, a former Philly who received a standing ovation at Citizen’s Bank Ballpark after clearing the bases with a liner off the wall.
“We cannot sit and feel sorry about what’s going on. We have to go out there and compete with what we have and try to win games. We’ve been doing pretty well without some good players. We definitely want those guys back, but we can’t do anything but go out there and compete.” – Cruz, on the numerous injuries
“It’s been a wild year so far. We’re 6-7 weeks into this thing, and had our ninth starter out there today. It’s hard to imagine you could ever plan for anything like this. As much depth as we think we created in the offseason, you never think you’re going to have to tap into this much. But that’s where we’re at.” — Servais, after spot starter Ryan Weber worked 3.2 innings against the Blue Jays Saturday but left with a shoulder injury
May 9: Traded RHP Casey Fien to the Philadelphia Phillies for cash considerations; acquired 23-year-old RHP minor leaguer Bryan Bonnell from Tampa Bay in exchange for an international signing slot. May 10: Selected RHP Sam Gaviglio from Tacoma, placed RHP Hisashi Iwakuma on the 10-day DL, transferred RHP Evan Marshall to the 60-day DL, May 11: Recalled LHP Zac Curtis from AA Arkansas, optioned RHP Dan Altavilla to Tacoma, transferred RHP Evan Scribner to the 60-day DL, claimed RHP Casey Lawrence off waivers from Toronto. May 12: Signed former Philaelphia RHP Tyler Cloyd and optioned him to Tacoma. May 13: Recalled RHP Ryan Weber from Tacoma, designated RHP Jean Machi for assignment, announced Iwakuma would miss four to six weeks with right shoulder inflammation. May 14: Placed Weber on the 10-day DL with a right biceps injury, recalled Altavilla from Tacoma, outrighted Machi to Tacoma.
The Mariners begin a seven-game home stand Monday that has visits by the Oakland Athletics (Monday through Wednesday) and Chicago White Sox (Thursday through Sunday). RHP Yovani Gallardo (1-3, 4.58) starts the 7:10 p.m. series opener against Oakland opposite LHP Sean Manaea (1-2, 5.18).