By Don Ruiz The News Tribune
SEATTLE — The Seattle Mariners listened Monday while visiting Toronto fans at Safeco Field loudly chanted “Let’s go Blue Jays.”
However, for seven innings the Blue Jays couldn’t get anything going against Mariners starter Hisashi Iwakuma.
That changed in the eighth, as Toronto chased Iwakuma with a three-running inning that was all they needed for a 3-1 win.
“He was Iwakuma,” said bench coach Robby Thompson. “That’s the reason we sent him back out there. He had given up two hits. He was at 93 pitches. We thought he was the guy to go with. For us, it was ‘Why not?’ And for him, he was ready to go.”
Iwakuma and Toronto knuckleballer R.A Dickey had matched each other zero for zero through six innings.
“(Dickey) had good stuff,” Thompson said. “He throws a soft little knuckleball that moves more, he throws one that’s a little harder; he threw a few more fastballs early in the game than we had seen in the past. He was tough. He isn’t a Cy Young Award-winner for nothing.”
Seattle (52-60) broke onto the scoreboard first, when Justin Smoak opened the seventh with a home run to right field.
“(Dickey) definitely had it dancing all through the night,” Smoak said. “… I just happened catch it at the right time.”
The Blue Jays (52-60) responded immediately in the eighth, sending eight batters to the plate while facing three Seattle pitchers. The big hits were a leadoff triple from Brett Lawrie and a game-tying single by Jose Reyes, which ended Iwakuma’s night. The game-winning, two-run single came from pitch hitter Mark DeRosa against Oliver Perez.
“It went down to the end, and we got the big hit,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said. “Lawrie got a lot of things going. He was the key guy tonight. … It was just a well-played game all the way around. We ended up getting the big hit.”
Iwakuma (10-5) got the loss, allowing two runs and four hits over 7.1 innings.
“My stuff was OK,” he said through a translator. “I had a hard time commanding my pitches early in the game, but I was able to pitch effectively. I was able to keep the ball down, and that helped me a lot.”
Dickey recorded his ninth win of the season – but first since July 1 — while allowing one earned run on eight hits, with five strikeouts and two walks.
Catcher Humberto Quintero had a double and single, and was the only Mariner with more than one hit.
Meanwhile, Thompson put a happy face on the noticeably pro-Toronto tilt to the crowd of 32,300.
“That doesn’t matter,” he said. “Even when you’re on the road and it’s a packed house and they’re cheering for the home team, it doesn’t matter. As a player you’re going out there, the more fans the better, no matter where you’re at.”
Well, most players.
“I’m not going to say what I want to say,” Smoak said. “It is what it is. I guess we’re as close to Canada as anybody. … It was a good crowd for a Monday night game. Good for them, I guess.”