Mariners-Blue Jays preview
TORONTO --The Seattle Mariners won the opener of a three-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays 2-1 Friday night behind the dominant pitching of James Paxton.
The left-hander struck out nine in seven innings and held the Blue Jays to three hits, including a home run by Michael Saunders.
Seattle sends out another hot pitcher Saturday afternoon in the second game of the series in Hisashi Iwakuma (10-6, 4.01 ERA), who is going for his fifth consecutive win.
The right-hander pitched seven scoreless innings while surrendering two hits and a walk while striking out eight on July 16 against the Houston Astros. He is 4-0 with a 2.39 ERA in his past four starts and is 9-2 with a 3.75 ERA in his past 11 outings.
This will be his fourth career start (fifth appearance) against Toronto. He is 3-1 with a 2.40 ERA against the Blue Jays. He is 1-0 with a 5.63 ERA in two games at Rogers Centre, including one start.
Iwakuma faces right-hander R.A. Dickey (7-10, 4.11). The knuckleballer took the loss against the Oakland Athletics on July 16, allowing five runs on five hits in six innings as the Blue Jays fell 5-4. Overall, he is 5-4 with a 3.64 ERA in his past 10 starts after overcoming his usual slow start.
In 13 career games (five starts) against Seattle, Dickey is 5-3 with a 4.22 ERA.
Both teams have had to juggle their lineups lately. The Mariners' Shawn O'Malley and Luis Sardinas will be sharing shortstop while regular shortstop Ketel Marte recovers from mononucleosis.
"Does it affect us? Yes," Seattle manager Scott Servais admitted. "He's been our regular shortstop. But Sardinas is up here with O'Malley, and those two will mix and match. They'll share the duties. I don't want to put too much on one guy. I think O'Malley has done a nice job for us in the three games that he's filled in. Again, we're not looking for the spectacular. Make the routine play and battle at the plate."
O'Malley got the start Friday night and was 1-for-4.
Toronto catcher Josh Thole, usually is the personal receiver for Dickey, was pressed into service Friday night after regular catcher Russell Martin suffered a twisted left knee after becoming lightheaded in a sauna Thursday, an off day in the schedule. He said he is hoping to return Sunday but meanwhile, the Blue Jays are restricted with what they can do. With Martin out they cannot run or hit for Thole, to say nothing of what they might do in the case of an injury.
An MRI of the knee on Friday revealed no structural damage.
Martin said he went to the sauna without having eaten much. He stayed in a bit too long and felt woozy, so he took a cold shower. After a minute in the shower, he passed out.
"The next thing I know I'm on the ground," Martin said before the game Friday. "I had dropped the shower hose on my face and I'm on the ground ... I woke up and I had the shower curtain half on my body."
He also banged his head. The small bump on his head is no problem but the knee is still sore.
"It's probably going to be sore, but I've played through soreness before," Martin said. "Knowing that there's no structural damage kind of puts my mind at ease. It's just going to be one of those years where I have to grind it out."
If Martin needs more than a couple of days, the Blue Jays have little catching depth in their system and may have to look outside for help behind the plate.
Toronto infielder Darwin Barney was in left field Friday for the second straight game, his first two career games in the outfield. Ezequiel Carrera, who has been resting a sore Achilles tendon, was used as a pinch-hitter Friday and could return Saturday.