TORONTO -- Jose Bautista appears to be heating up and that should mean good things for a Blue Jays team that is trying to survive without a couple of key members from its everyday lineup.
Bautista homered for the second time over his last three games to help Toronto secure a 4-0 victory over the Mariners on Friday night at Rogers Centre. The Blue Jays are experiencing a bit of a resurgence after winning six of their last eight games, and a victory this weekend would secure a third consecutive series victory.
Right-hander Joe Biagini picked up the win after tossing five-plus scoreless innings during the second big league start of his career. Biagini scattered four hits and did not walk a batter while striking out three to earn his first victory as a starter. The only thing that stopped him from going deeper in the game was a limited pitch count as he continues to transition from the bullpen.
"They never suffered from a lack of confidence, but things are starting to go our way now," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "We're starting to get some big hits, which we weren't earlier in the year. Balls are starting to leave the ballpark. Earlier in the year they were just going to the warning track, and we're getting some breaks along the way."
Christian Bergman took the loss for Seattle after he allowed three runs on seven hits with one strikeout over five innings. His big mistake came on 2-1 changeup to Bautista that caught too much of the plate, but outside of that Bergman had a solid outing in his first start of the year for a team that is missing four-fifths of its projected Opening Day rotation.
Jarrod Dyson and former Blue Jay Danny Valencia each had a double, while Taylor Motter had two hits. But other than that it was a quiet day on offense for the Mariners, who went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position and left seven men on base.
"As hot as we were with the bats in Philadelphia, we've been just as cold here in Toronto," said Seattle manager Scott Servais, whose team has totaled two runs in two games after racking up 21 in a pair of wins against the Phillies. "It happens. It goes back and forth a little bit. You've got to give credit to Biagini. He threw the ball pretty good. I thought he had good stuff, mixed in a good changeup, and his fastball had life."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Bautista blast: Bautista has been driving the ball with more regularity of late after a slow start to the season, and he reaped the rewards again on Friday night. This time it was a two-run shot off the foul pole in left field that gave Toronto a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the third inning. According to Statcast™, Bautista's fourth of the year was projected to travel 393 feet and left his bat at 102 mph with a launch angle of 28 degrees. Bautista has now reached base at least once in each of his last four games after going through an 0-for-21 hitless skid.
"We all believed it was just a matter of time," Gibbons said. "Nobody ever knows what sets a guy off in the right direction. It could be a little bloop hit, it could be a walk. But something clicks inside and for some reason their timing lines up right."
Gamel gets robbed: In the top of the third, Seattle found itself trailing by a run but had runners on second and third with two outs when Ben Gamel stepped to the plate. Gamel lifted a fly ball into shallow left-center field that initially appeared as though it would drop for a hit. Toronto left fielder Steve Pearce thought otherwise as he tracked the ball down and made a diving grab for the final out of the frame. Seattle had a similar two-out threat in the fourth but Valencia was stranded at second when Guillermo Heredia flew out to left. Gamel also lost out on a likely double in the first when first baseman Justin Smoak snared a 104-mph shot down the line.
"It's baseball for you," said Gamel. "Hit 'em where they're not, I guess."
"There's an effect, obviously, with what he means to our team and on the field. But that's part of it. You've got to keep playing and keep grinding. We just offensively couldn't get anything going." -- Servais, on playing a second straight game with Robinson Cano sidelined by a strained quad
"We haven't formally met." -- Biagini, when asked if he had met his own expectations as a starter
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Mariners leadoff hitter Jean Segura extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a sixth-inning single and is batting .412 during that stretch to put his average at an American League-leading .364.
The Blue Jays have hit 17 homers over their last 11 games after hitting 22 in their first 25.
WHAT'S NEXT Mariners: Seattle still hasn't named a starter for Saturday's 10:07 a.m. PT game at Rogers Centre. With Hisashi Iwakuma going on the 10-day disabled list Wednesday, the club is now minus four of its original five starters. The Mariners will make a roster move Saturday morning to add the replacement, which likely means either Triple-A Tacoma right-hander Ryan Weber or righty Casey Lawrence, who was claimed Thursday from Toronto after starting a pair of games for the Blue Jays.
Blue Jays: Right-hander Marcus Stroman (3-2, 3.38) will take the mound when the Blue Jays continue this series vs. the Mariners on Saturday afternoon with first pitch scheduled for 1:07 p.m. ET. Stroman tossed six scoreless innings vs. Cleveland during his last outing, which alleviated some possible injury concerns after he was forced to depart the previous start with stiffness in his right shoulder area.