Springer's RBI single lifts Blue Jays over Mariners 3-2 in rematch of AL wild card
TORONTO — George Springer hit a go-ahead RBI single in the sixth inning to lift the Toronto Blue Jays over the Seattle Mariners 3-2 on Friday.
Alejandro Kirk had three hits, including a solo homer, as Toronto (17-9) won its fifth consecutive game. Matt Chapman also drove in a run with a double.
Blue Jays infielder Whit Merrifield's second-inning double ensured that he reached base for the 20th consecutive game.
Alek Manoah gave up six hits and four walks, but struck out seven and allowed just two runs over five innings to lower his earned-run average from 5.13 to 4.88.
Tim Mayza picked up the win, as he, Yimi Garcia, Erik Swanson and closer Jordan Romano of Markham, Ont., pitched four scoreless innings of relief. Romano earned his ninth save of the season.
Cal Raleigh had a home run and an RBI single for Seattle (11-15), which has dropped three straight.
Starting pitcher Luis Castillo gave up six hits and two walks, striking out four and allowing two runs over five innings.
Reliever Trevor Gott (0-1) took the loss after giving up Springer's RBI, with Matt Brash and Penn Murfee also taking the mound.
It was the first time the two clubs had met since the Mariners eliminated the Blue Jays from the post-season with two straight wins in the American League wild-card series last fall.
Manoah and Castillo were also the starting pitchers in Game 1 of the wild-card series, which Seattle won 4-0 on Oct. 7 at Rogers Centre. Kevin Gausman was Toronto's starter for Game 2 of that series — the Mariners won the decisive game 10-9 on Oct. 8 — and will start for the Blue Jays on Saturday.
"'It's cool that it lined up that way, you know?" said Toronto manager John Schneider before the game. "I think two different teams at two different times.
"April is a lot different than October so you just try to win the series."
Raleigh led off the second inning with a solo shot to deep right field. The third home run of his season improved Raleigh's RBI count to 13.
Manoah quickly loaded the bases after Raleigh's blast, with only one out from a fielder's choice. Chapman smoothly handled a hit from Ty France at third base to turn a quick double play and get his starter out of the jam.
Kirk replied in the bottom of the inning, hitting a solo shot to left field with two out. His 401-foot home run bounced off a guardrail above the outfield fence for his second of the season.
Raleigh struck again in the third, sending a bouncing hit into deep right field. Jarred Kelenic easily beat Springer's throw from the outfield to restore Seattle's one-run lead.
But Toronto again answered back in the bottom of the inning.
Chapman banged a double off the centre-field wall, with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. showing surprising speed — he tossed his batting helmet off between second and third — to score from first and tie it 2-2.
Springer gave the Blue Jays their first lead of the game in the sixth, hitting a single to shallow centre field to score Merrifield. Springer had left Toronto's 8-0 rout of the visiting Chicago White Sox on Wednesday after being hit by a pitch on his right wrist.
Schneider said the team's day off Thursday had been well timed for Springer to recover from the contusion and he was able to leadoff Toronto's batting order against Seattle.
TEO RETURNS — Mariners right-fielder Teoscar Hernández made his first appearance in Toronto since the Blue Jays traded him to Seattle on Nov. 16. He said it was good to be back in the city where he played for five years.
"A lot of memories, emotions. Good ones, bad ones, but it definitely feels good to be back and see the boys," said Hernandez.
ON DECK — Gausman (2-2) will get the start for Toronto in Game 2 of the three-game set with Seattle.
Chris Flexen (0-4) is scheduled to start for the Mariners in the matinee.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 28, 2023.
John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press