Blue Jays hope offensive momentum continues vs. Mariners

TORONTO — The Toronto Blue Jays have had trouble scoring recently.

And for the longest time Wednesday night, it appeared they were on their way to another loss and would be trying to avoid being swept in their three-game series against the Seattle Mariners in the finale Thursday night at the Rogers Centre.

Instead, they will be going for the series victory after defeating the Mariners 5-2 on Wednesday.

The Mariners will start right-hander Mike Leake (3-3, 6.28 ERA) against Blue Jays left-hander J.A. Happ (4-2, 3.67) in the third game.

The Blue Jays’ offensive woes reached their peak Tuesday when the Mariners’ Canadian left-hander James Paxton threw a no-hitter against them.

Most of the talk around the Mariners was of Paxton’s no-hitter, the sixth in the club’s history. Five pitchers have had a no-hitter for the Mariners and the other one was a collective effort by the pitching staff.

Paxton found time among numerous interviews to do his scheduled workout early Wednesday.

“He started his program like he always does,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “But he had a smile on his face, as he should. It was great for him, but he knows we have a lot ahead of us this year, and hopefully there are a lot of other great outings. Maybe not a no-hitter again, but it was fun to enjoy and take it all in last night.”

The Blue Jays had a hit from their first batter Wednesday when Teoscar Hernandez singled, but going into the eighth inning they still were struggling to put hits together and were trailing the Mariners 2-1.

Then they erupted with three straight doubles, a single, a double and a single in a four-run eighth to take the game.

It was their third win this season when trailing after seven innings. They are 3-16 in such games. The Mariners are 16-2 when leading after seven innings.

“They held us in check early,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “We came to life late. After the last few days, we were overdue to explode because we have a good offense. We’re capable of doing that.”

The Blue Jays had scored 11 runs over their previous five games, losing four of them.

“We kept them down for a long time in this series,” Servais said. “But we weren’t able to shut the door tonight.”

Although the Blue Jays’ starting rotation has struggled this season when it was expected to be a strong point, Happ has been solid.

He was not at his best in his most recent start when allowed three runs, four hits and four walks over 5 2/3 innings in taking the loss against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on Friday. He will be making his eighth start of the season Thursday.

Happ is 4-1 with a 3.71 ERA in six career starts against the Mariners. He also pitched for Seattle for part of the 2015 season, going 4-6 with a 4.64 ERA before being traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates, finishing the season with them by going 7-2 with a 1.85 ERA.

Leake will also be making his eighth start of the season. Over his first three starts this season the 30-year-old went 2-0 with a 3.50 ERA. In his last four starts, he has allowed 20 runs and 32 hits over 20 2/3 innings.

He allowed seven hits and three runs over 5 1/3 innings and took the loss in his most recent start Friday against the Angels.

He has not faced the Blue Jays since 2014. In two career starts against them, Leake is 1-1 with a 2.40 ERA.