Blue Jays-Mariners Preview

Ricky Romero has done little to help his cause during an

absolutely miserable July.

Then again, neither have his teammates.

The left-hander tries to avoid losing a career-worst seventh

consecutive start Monday when the Toronto Blue Jays begin a 10-game

road swing with the first of three contests against the Seattle

Mariners.

To say Romero (8-7, 5.75 ERA) is struggling is an

understatement. He has a 10.48 ERA during his losing streak, giving

up 34 runs and 44 hits while walking 22 in 28 1-3 innings. He may

have bottomed out Wednesday in a 16-0 loss to Oakland, leaving

after allowing eight runs and walking six while recording just four

outs.

“It’s kind of tough to look my teammates in the eye right now,”

Romero said. “Tonight was just pathetic on my side, a horrible

performance.”

Though he put his team in a hole in his last start, Romero has

not seen a run of support dating back to a July 2 loss to Kansas

City. Romero has had two quality starts during his winless run, but

manager John Farrell knows the struggles have weighed heavily on

the southpaw.

“We have to work to get him right, there’s no question about

it,” he told the team’s official website. “We have talked a lot

about what his frame of mind is, and yet we have to work to rebuild

that to get him on track.”

Romero is 1-1 with a 3.51 ERA in six lifetime starts against

Seattle and allowed three runs in 6 2-3 innings versus the Mariners

on April 27 in a 9-5, 10-inning loss. The last Blue Jay to lose

seven consecutive starts was Josh Towers in 2006.

Despite Romero’s struggles, the Blue Jays (51-50) are still in

the thick of the AL wild-card race, 3 1/2 games out of the second

spot. They were denied a sweep of their three-game series versus

Detroit with Sunday’s 4-1 loss, stranding eight runners and going 0

for 4 with runners in scoring position.

The Mariners (47-57) have become an also-ran in the highly

competitive AL West, but they enter this game hoping to win a

season-high fifth straight contest. Seattle capped a four-game

sweep of Kansas City with a 7-6 victory Sunday after Munenori

Kawasaki scored the go-ahead run on a throwing error in the eighth

inning.

“We’ve been playing pretty well lately and scoring some runs and

pitching has been great,” said Kyle Seager, who has an AL-leading

36 RBIs with two out. “It’s been great.”

Seager, who went 3 for 4 on Sunday, is hitting just .186 at

home.

Rookie Hisashi Iwakuma (1-2, 4.56) again seeks his first victory

as a starter since cracking the rotation earlier this month. The

right-hander overcame some control issues Wednesday against New

York, issuing three walks but yielding only one run in five innings

before leaving without a decision in Seattle’s 5-2 loss.

Iwakuma has walked 10 in 21 innings as a starter and also has

given up a homer in each of those four outings. He surrendered a

grand slam to Edwin Encarnacion in a disastrous inning of relief in

Toronto on April 28.

Closer Tom Wilhelmsen has converted all four of his save

opportunities in helping the Mariners go 5-2 thus far on this

10-game homestand, but has allowed runs in the last two.