His swing at the 0-1 pitch from Toronto reliever Scott Downs was a flailing mess, so out of character for the collected, methodical approach of Ichiro Suzuki that his teammates knew it had to be planned.
“That second pitch made him look horrible,” Seattle closer David Aardsma said. “I turned to (Jason) Vargas and said, ‘He’s just setting him up right here, getting him to throw another curveball.’ Then he did the patented Ichiro drop the bat swing and it fell in there perfect.”
Whether it was a setup or not, only Suzuki knows. But Downs was baited into throwing the same pitch again and Suzuki delivered, adding a new accolade to his list of accomplishments.
Suzuki dumped Downs’ 0-2 pitch into center field with two outs in the ninth to score Rob Johnson, and the Mariners snapped their four-game losing streak with a 4-3 win over the Blue Jays on Tuesday night.
The 1,953rd hit of Suzuki’s major league career was his first that ended a game and like many others, Suzuki was the only one who could have hit it. The pitch from Downs (1-3) broke sharply downward and Suzuki had to golf it over the head of shortstop Marco Scutaro and in front of center fielder Vernon Wells.
“I think you throw that pitch to anybody else in the league and they are going to strike out on it,” Toronto manager Cito Gaston said.
Seattle reliever Mark Lowe gave up two runs as part of an eighth-inning collapse that saw the Blue Jays pull even at 3-all. Seattle loaded the bases with no outs in the ninth and then failed in two chances to win it before Suzuki came through.
Jose Lopez, with two game-winning hits already this season, had the first chance. Pinch-hitting for rookie Michael Saunders, Lopez hit a chopper to Scott Rolen at third, who threw home to get Jack Hannahan. It was Hannahan’s third hit of the game to open the ninth that started the rally.
Ronny Cedeno, mired in an 0-for-24 slump, then struck out on three pitches before Suzuki got his third hit of the game.
“Did you see the pitch?” Seattle manager Don Wakamatsu wondered. “It was about an inch off the ground. He never ceases to amaze me.”
Aardsma (3-3) got the victory, giving up a single to start the ninth but retiring the next three.
Seattle starter Jarrod Washburn appeared on his way to a fifth straight victory, but his hopes at extending the streak and potentially having a winning send off to his time in Seattle – should he get traded – was ruined by the eighth-inning collapse.
Washburn held Toronto scoreless through six innings and left following the seventh with a 3-1 lead after giving up just one run and five hits.
With scouts from a handful of contenders in the Safeco Field stands, Washburn stymied the Blue Jays for five innings, then wiggled out of jams in the sixth and seventh. Now he’ll wait like everyone else to see if he stays in Seattle or moves on elsewhere.
“There’s no question it’s in my mind, all the stuff that’s off the field, all the stuff going on, all the questions being asked,” said Washburn, who lowered his ERA to 2.64. “It’s there, but once you’re on the field it doesn’t come between the lines. The job is the easy part.”
Lowe started the eighth allowing consecutive doubles to Scutaro and Hill, cutting the deficit to 3-2. After getting two pop ups, Alex Rios hit a shot just inside the bag at third to score Hill and tie it.
Facing Seattle for the first time, Toronto rookie Mark Rzepczynsk allowed two hits and struck out eight through five innings, retiring 11 straight at one point.
But Rzepczynsk couldn’t get out of the sixth, allowing Chris Shelton‘s RBI double and Hannahan run-scoring single over a drawn-in infield to end Rzepczynski’s night.
In the fifth start of his career, Rzepczynski allowed three earned runs and five hits.
Saunders saved two runs, robbing Wells of a homer in the first then tracking down Raul Chavez‘s two-out line drive in the seventh with a runner on third. … Seattle RHP Chris Jakubauskas said he has appealed his fine for hitting Cleveland’s Ben Francisco following Asdrubal Cabrera‘s two-run homer on Saturday. … Temperatures in Seattle on Wednesday are expected to push 100 degrees. Wednesday’s game is scheduled for 1:40 p.m.