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Seattle’s pen blows chance at sweep of Jays
SEATTLE (AP) - Eric Wedge decided to stick with the roles that are already being established in Seattle’s bullpen.
It had worked for the previous 17 innings of relief pitching _ all of which were scoreless. That plan melted down on Wednesday afternoon.
Chris Ray was at the heart of the bullpen blowup. The veteran righty was tagged for five hits and five earned runs in the eighth inning as Toronto rallied for an 8-3 win over the Mariners, denying Seattle a three-game sweep of the Blue Jays.
The biggest blow was Jose Bautista’s three-run homer when the Toronto slugger turned on a hanging slider and deposited it into the visitors’ bullpen _ where Blue Jays’ reliever Jon Rauch caught it while warming up. That turned a 2-1 Seattle lead into a 4-2 deficit and the Blue Jays went on to score six runs in the inning and send 11 batters to the plate.
“I ended up hanging a 2-1 slider. It was a bad pitch,” Ray said. “I threw a good one to him 1-1 and just missed. I came back and it just hung. He’s known for his power and he got it.”
The struggles by Seattle’s bullpen ruined a strong effort from starter Jason Vargas, who bounced back well from being knocked around last Friday for seven earned runs in the Mariners' home opener against Cleveland.
Going to Ray (1-1) so quickly was a bit of a surprise after Jamey Wright had struck out Jose Molina for the final out of the seventh inning, throwing just five pitches. But Wright was on the bench and Ray on the mound to start the eighth.
Trouble began almost immediately.
The eighth started innocently enough with a broken-bat single up the middle by Yunel Escobar, but Corey Patterson followed with a bunt single. Bautista, who struck out twice earlier and fouled out down the left-field line in a key spot in the fifth, then deposited Ray’s pitch.
The Jays weren’t done as Jayson Nix doubled and later scored on Edwin Encarnacion’s two-out double. Ray was finally pulled, leaving to a smattering of boos from the tiny afternoon crowd on a chilly and damp day.
Ray, who made the club out of spring training after going to camp on a minor-league deal, has allowed 11 hits, eight earned runs and two homers in 4 2-3 innings so far this season.
Josh Lueke took over and didn’t fare much better. He walked John McDonald, then gave up a two-run double to Molina, his third hit and second double of the afternoon, and a single to Escobar before finally getting a strikeout of Patterson to end the inning.
Toronto reliever Mark Rzepczynski (1-0) got the win in relief of rookie Kyle Drabek. Rzepczynski threw two innings of hitless relief, striking out a pair. His biggest out was his first, when he got Ichiro Suzuki on strikes to end the sixth inning with runners on first and third.
By Bob Dole
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