With the real life Mariners embarking on a rather-meaningless series in Kansas City later on today, I’ve been dispatched to follow the MLB 2K version of the Mariners — my version, that is — as they finish their all-important series at the Rogers Centre. I’ve enjoyed being back in my former stomping grounds of Toronto, buying a virtual hot dog on the street outside the ballpark. They still taste great. Hotel costs are a lot lower too.
But I’m starting to wonder whether it was worth it. The M’s just got hammered, 9-4, by the Blue Jays, with Ryan Howard hitting a pair of home runs. His first one, a three-run blast in the third, brought Toronto from behind and put the Jays up to stay. Kenji Johjima added a three-run shot of his own, off Felix Hernandez in the fifth, to put the game out of reach.
The Mariners took an early 3-0 lead off Woody Williams, on a solo homer by Garret Anderson and an RBI double by Connor Jackson in the first, then a solo homer in the second by Robinson Cano. But Seattle could not muster a hit after the second inning — until a solo homer by J.D. Drew in the ninth, his 76th of the year, off Ryan Madson. Seattle hitters fanned 11 times while not drawing a walk. When the home runs dry up, that spells trouble.
The M’s still have a full-game lead on the Texas Rangers, who also lost today, in the AL West.
The Blue Jays are no slouches. They sit at 84-54, trailing the first-place Red Sox by 2 1/2 games in the AL East, but otherwise leading the wild-card race.
The AL West standings:
Seattle 78-58 —
Texas 77-59 1.0
Oakland 70-67 8.5
Angels 65-70 12.5
3:15 p.m.: Dennys Reyes served up a solo homer to Ryan Howard in the seventh, his second long ball of the game, to make it a 9-3 score, Blue Jays leading. It was the only hit allowed by Reyes, who worked into the eighth before Gary Majewski came on to get the final two outs. We’re on to the ninth, Seattle needing a miracle.
3:08 p.m.: The last 16 Mariners have gone down in order as we head through the seventh-inning stretch, Seattle trailing 8-3. Woody Williams had retired 13 in a row when pulled after six for reliever Ryan Madson, who set the side down in order in the seventh.
Felix Hernandez got through the sixth without a problem, but was pulled in favor of Dennys Reyes to start the bottom of the seventh.
2:57 p.m.: Toronto just put up a four-spot in the fifth inning to grab an 8-3 lead. Felix Hernandez is having a woeful day, seeing a couple of cheap hits in the fifth, then allowing Kenji Johjima to take him deep for a three-run homer on a misplaced slider. Adding insult to injury, J.D. Drew dropped a two-out flyball to right by Brian Giles, allowing an unearned run to score. Hernandez finished off the inning, but the bullpen is getting ready and he’ll probably come out later this frame.
By the way, a change by the official scorer from the third inning now sees the Hanley Ramirez error called a hit. That means the three-run homer by Ryan Howard counts as earned runs across the board. That’s seven allowed by Hernandez over five frames. A rough day indeed. The official scorers in Toronto leave plenty to be desired, trust me. This will only add to their less-than-stellar reputation.
Woody Williams has retired 10 in a row, striking out seven as we start the sixth.
2:40 p.m.: Felix Hernandez is seeing his day go downhill in a hurry, with the Blue Jays netting three unearned runs off him in the bottom of the third, courtesy of a Hanley Ramirez error and a three-run homer from Ryan Howard. Toronto now has a 4-3 lead.
Ben Zobrist led off with a single to center, then shortstop Ramirez muffed a double-play ball by B.J. Upton, putting two on. Leadoff man Moises Alou then hit a chopper to Ramirez that he got the force at second on, but the throw to first was late, putting runners at the corners with one out. Kenji Johjima then flied out to shallow left, the runners holding. But Howard got hold of a fastball on the outside corner and lined it over the wall in left.
Hernandez looks frustrated. He has to keep his composure.
2:29 p.m.: The Blue Jays are on the board, with Brian Giles hitting a solo homer off Felix Hernandez in the bottom of the second, cutting Seattle’s lead to 3-1. It’s the only hit Hernandez has given up so far as we head to the third.
Robinson Cano rocked Blue Jays starter Woody Williams for a leadoff solo homer to straightaway center to start the second inning. Seattle already has six hits, four for extra bases. The roof is open at the Rogers Centre and that tends to help balls carry. The M’s are taking full advantage.
2:19 p.m.: And the big bats are already connecting off Blue Jays starter Woody Williams, taking a 2-0 lead after a half-inning of play. Williams got the first two outs, then yielded a massive home run to center by Garret Anderson to open the scoring. Drew then doubled to left center, followed by a double to the left field corner by Connor Jackson. An important fast start against a Jays pitcher who entered the day with the AL’s fourth-lowest ERA.
Hernandez retired the side 1-2-3 in the bottom of the frame on a groundout, a popout and a harmless grounder by the dangerous Ryan Howard. Remember, Hernandez threw a one-hit shutout and fanned 14 his last time out.
BLUE JAYS (83-54)
LF Moises Alou
C Kenji Johjima
1B Ryan Howard
CF Grady Sizemore
RF Brian Giles
3B Mike Lowell
2B Tony Graffanino
DH Ben Zobrist
SS B.J. Upton
RHP Woody Williams
CF Coco Crisp
SS Hanley Ramirez
LF Garret Anderson
RF J.D. Drew
1B Connor Jackson
3B Edwin Encarnacion
2B Robinson Cano
DH Wes Helms
C A.J. Pierzynski
RHP Felix Hernandez