"These guys were talking about it on the plane and I didn't really think anything of it until we showed up for BP," said Mark DeRosa, who played the role of hero. "What an exciting atmosphere. Probably, besides Canada Day and Opening Day, our best atmosphere of the year. No offense to Rogers Centre, but this place was jumping tonight."
DeRosa brought the energetic Blue Jays fans to their feet with a go-ahead, two-out, two-run single in the eighth inning that gave Toronto a 3-1 lead.
The go-ahead single by DeRosa, who was pinch-hitting for Adam Lind, capped the Blue Jays' three-run eighth inning and gave them their second consecutive comeback win. Toronto scored twice in Anaheim on Sunday to pull out a 6-5 victory.
"I feel like our team shows glimpses of what we can be," said starter R.A. Dickey. "I think that's what makes the season all the more frustrating. We'll have a game against a very, very good pitcher like this, and then we'll drop the ball, figuratively, for the next couple of games. Then we show another glimpse. Hopefully, this will become more the routine."
Down, 1-0, on Monday, the Blue Jays finally got to Seattle starter Hisashi Iwakuma in the eighth. Brett Lawrie led off the inning with a slicing triple into the gap in right-center field. After a weak groundout to second base by Josh Thole, Jose Reyes scored Lawrie with a line-drive single to center field.
After Rajai Davis flied out to right, Jose Bautista kept the inning alive with a two-out single, and Edwin Encarnacion followed with a walk to load the bases. The Mariners went to lefty reliever Oliver Perez with lefty-swinging Lind due up, and the Blue Jays countered with DeRosa.
DeRosa fell behind in the count, 0-2, but laced a pitched between shortstop and third to score Reyes and Bautista without a play at the plate.
"Oliver's a guy prides himself on attacking," DeRosa said. "He's got a lot of herky-jerky motions. I was just trying to take the lower half out of it, get my foot down. I knew he'd challenge me. That's the type of guy he is. I always kind of look at who's on the mound, how the matchup should play out.
"He just kept throwing me fastballs ... so just choked up with two strikes and tried to put something in play hard. It worked out."
Dickey and Iwakuma were locked in a pitchers' duel for the better part of the night.
Dickey was far from perfect, allowing eight hits and two walks in 7 2/3 innings, but he effectively limited the damage and improved to 9-11 on the season. In fact, his biggest mistake came when Justin Smoak led off the seventh with a towering home run deep into the seats in right field. It was the 25th home run Dickey has allowed this season. Oakland right-hander A.J. Griffin (28) is the only American League pitcher to have served up more homers.
"R.A. Dickey did a great job against us, we had a couple of opportunities that we didn't take advantage of," Mariners' acting manager Robby Thompson said. "We had a little bit of a blunder baserunning early that we knew was probably going to come down to be a big run we wish we would have gotten, but that's the game of baseball."
Aside from Smoak's 11th home run of the season, Dickey successfully navigated through the Seattle lineup and only faced real trouble on a couple of occasions. The Mariners did put two men on in three innings, but aside from the home run, Dickey only allowed a runner to reach third once.
That came in the third inning, when Humberto Quintero doubled and Kyle Seager singled to put runners on the corners with one out. Kendrys Morales followed Seager with a sharp grounder to the left side. Third baseman Lawrie was able to dive to his left to make the stop, though. From his knees, Lawrie made an accurate throw to second to start an inning-ending double play.
"Lawrie got a lot of things going, he was the key guy tonight," said manager John Gibbons of his third baseman, who had three hits. "Plus, that double play he turned was huge."
Iwakuma was almost as impressive, giving up two runs on just four hits, but he did walk three in 7 1/3 innings. The All-Star right-hander falls to 10-5 on the season, despite another dominant performance.
But it wasn't Iwakuma's night on Monday, nor was it any of the other Mariners. It was a game for the Blue Jays and the decidedly pro-Toronto crowd.
"It felt great," Lawrie said. "It felt like we were at home, I guess. The whole crowd seemed like it was full of Blue Jays."