SEATTLE — A string of big hits by the Blue Jays put a dent in the Mariners’ fading playoff hopes Tuesday night.
Toronto erupted for eight runs in the fourth inning and J.A Happ became the majors’ second 20-game winner, lifting Toronto over Seattle 10-2.
The Mariners have lost four of five and fell four games behind the Blue Jays for the top AL wild card and three games back of Baltimore for the second spot.
“Disappointing, no doubt, but it is what it is, you got to try to regroup and we got to get back to playing good baseball,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “We just aren’t playing good baseball. It’s kind of been the story of our season. We are really, really good or we kind of have some ugly nights. We need to get back to doing what we do.”
Hisashi Iwakuma (16-12) was staked to a 2-0 lead, but gave up two-run homers to Russell Martin and Michael Saunders during the Blue Jays’ big inning. Iwakuma allowed a season-high six runs, five earned, lasting just 3 1/3 innings.
“I think overall when you look back at the game my stuff was there, I just couldn’t put it together,” Iwakuma said through a translator. “That inning I fell behind, two of the home runs were 2-0 counts. That’s not good. You want to get strike one. But overall, in that situation, I kind of rushed my way through. I should have been more patient and that cost me.”
In the fourth, after catcher Chris Iannetta misplayed Jose Bautista’s pop foul for an error, Bautista singled with one out and Martin followed with his 20th home run. Troy Tulowitzki singled and Saunders followed with his 24th homer to put Toronto up 4-2.
Kevin Pillar doubled and Ezequiel Carrera chased Iwakuma with an RBI single. Devon Travis greeted reliever Nick Vincent with a bloop single down the right-field line, scoring Carrera from first to make it 6-2. Josh Donaldson walked and Edwin Encarnacion capped the inning with a two-run double.
Donaldson opened the sixth with his 35th homer and Encarnacion added an eighth-inning solo homer, his 42nd, for the final two runs.
Happ (20-4), who spent most of 2015 with Seattle, allowed two runs, six hits and a walk over five innings, striking out eight while winning for the 14th time in his last 15 decisions. He’s the first Toronto pitcher to reach 20 wins since Roy Halladay in 2008.
Martin and Saunders became the first Canadian-born teammates in Major League history to hit at least 20 home runs in the same season.
The Mariners took a 2-0 lead in the third when Robinson Cano lined a two-run triple off the knee of second baseman Travis that caromed all the way into the right-field corner.
“That one inning, they put a couple on the board, some tough plays,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said. “But what he (Happ) did, he held them in check, limited it to two and then our offense took over, which was good to see. We haven’t seen one of those in a while.”
Prior to stumbling on the current homestand, the Mariners had won eight straight to charge back into the wild-card race.
“I don’t think anyone three weeks ago thought this was going to be easy,” Servais said. “But all of a sudden we made it interesting. Unfortunately, we just didn’t carry the momentum over here on the homestand. We’ve got another game tomorrow, we need to get after it.”
Mariners: RHP Taijuan Walker had no issues after taking a line drive off his pitching arm in the first inning on Monday night. “He feels fine. There’s nothing there,” Servais said.
MARINERS AFFILIATE MOVES
Seattle will have two new minor league affiliates in 2017. The Mariners announced a two-year agreement with the Arkansas Travelers in the Double-A Texas League and a four-year deal with the Modesto Nuts in the Class A California League. Arkansas replaces Jackson, which won the Southern League title. Modesto replaces Bakersfield, which was contracted from the California League.
Blue Jays: RHP Aaron Sanchez (13-2, 3.17 ERA) gets the start in the afternoon series finale at Safeco Field. Sanchez is 2-1 with a 4.65 ERA and four no decisions in his last seven starts. He lasted just 3 2/3 innings in his last start, giving up six runs on five hits.
Mariners: RHP Felix Hernandez (11-6, 3.79) allowed six runs — five earned — and eight hits in 4 1/3 innings in his last start, a 6-0 loss vs. Houston. He is 7-2 in 12 starts since coming off the DL (right calf strain) on July 20.