Blue Jays 7, Mariners 2

Josh Johnson believed the mechanical changes he was attempting
to make would finally lead to a successful outing and an end to his
lengthy losing streak for the Toronto right-hander.

Walking out to the mound with a 1-0 lead thanks to Jose Reyes
taking Felix Hernandez deep certainly helped.

”It awesome. You have to be almost perfect most of the time
with him out there,” Johnson said. ”Offense did an awesome
job.”

Reyes homered on the first pitch of the game, added an RBI
single to cap Toronto’s big fourth inning, and the Blue Jays handed
Seattle ace Felix Hernandez his first loss since late May with a
7-2 win over the Mariners on Tuesday.

The Blue Jays battered Hernandez (11-5) and knocked him out
after just five innings, matching his shortest start of the
season.

A leading contender for a second AL Cy Young Award, Hernandez
got no help from his defense that committed three errors that led
to three unearned runs while he was on the mound.

”It was a struggle. A lot of it was I fell behind,” Hernandez
said. ”A leadoff homer; that was a tough game.”

While Hernandez was struggling, Johnson was throwing one of his
best games of the season with his potential spot in the rotation at
stake. Johnson threw five scoreless innings and won for the first
time since June 23, snapping a six-game losing streak.

Toronto manager John Gibbons pulled Johnson after only 86
pitches, but wanted to make sure he left with his confidence
high.

”He maybe had one more left in him, but I figured instead of
having to bail him out maybe that next inning, for all that he’s
been through, let him finish with five good, strong ones,” Gibbons
said. ”… A lot of that was let him go out on a clean slate and
feel good.”

Reyes brought the huge contingent of Blue Jays’ fans to their
feet from the start. He lined Hernandez’s first fastball of the
night 399 feet into the seats in right for his eighth homer of the
season. It was Reyes’ 18th career leadoff homer and first this
season.

For Hernandez, it was just the second leadoff homer allowed in
his career and a precursor to a tough night.

”He’s one of the best pitchers in the game,” Reyes said. ”I
had that approach before the game I was looking for a fastball
right in the middle the first pitch and I try to put my best swing
and that’s what happened.”

Toronto scored three times in the fourth helped by two Seattle
errors. Emilio Bonifacio had the big hit with a two-out double into
the gap in right-center field.

Bonifacio’s hit came after three defensive breakdowns by
Seattle: Kyle Seager committed his second error of the night,
shortstop Brad Miller threw wildly to second trying to start a
double play and Miller failed to hold the ball when tagging Brett
Lawrie on a stolen base.

Reyes followed Bonifacio with an RBI single to cap the big
inning. Toronto then scored twice more in the fifth when Colby
Rasmus dropped an RBI single on a two-out, 0-2 pitch from
Hernandez. That was followed by Lawrie’s RBI single and a 6-0
lead.

Seattle’s ugly night defensively was capped in the seventh when
Raul Ibanez committed the Mariners’ fourth error spiking an
attempted throw from left field into the ground just a few feet in
front of him and allowing Jose Bautista to score Toronto’s seventh
run.

Toronto’s offensive output made it an easy night for Johnson,
who in his previous four starts had an ERA of 14.06, but was
masterful against the Mariners.

It was the second time this season Johnson didn’t allow a run
and a key for him was getting out of the first when Seattle had
runners on the corners and one out. Johnson got Kendrys Morales to
ground into a double play and Seattle never got a runner to third
base until the seventh on Miller’s two-run triple.

Johnson said his focus was staying more on top of his pitches,
which helped keep the ball down in the strike zone.

”It was just a small little adjustment I made and it made a
world of difference,” Johnson said.

Notes: Rasmus made a highlight catch robbing Morales of a
potential home run in the sixth inning pulling in a deep drive to
center field. … Seattle optioned closer Tom Wilhelmsen to
Triple-A Tacoma on Tuesday in the hopes he can rediscover the
command of his fastball. Seattle recalled reliever Carter Capps to
take Wilhelmsen’s spot. Seattle also released OF Jason Bay, who was
designated for assignment on July 29. … Texas’ Ian Kinsler is the
only other batter to hit a leadoff homer off Hernandez. … The
four errors by Seattle were its most since committing six vs. the
Angels in September 2011.