On life support, Blue Jays come alive

Bautista's huge night with bat, glove and arm crush playoff-seeking M's

On life support, Blue Jays come alive

TORONTO -- The hit parade started early and didn't stop on Monday night as the Blue Jays pounded the ball to all fields in a 14-4 shellacking of the Mariners at Rogers Centre.

The Blue Jays put up four in the first, five in the third and five more along the way to take the series opener while throwing a wrench in the spokes of the Mariners' chase of an American League Wild Card berth. The Blue Jays, meanwhile, staved off their likely elimination from playoff contention, at least for one more night and remain six games back in the AL Wild Card race with six games to go.

"It always feels good to smile," said Blue Jays manager John Gibbons. "You try to do that every night, but it's not that easy. We had a real good approach at the plate ... had some big hits. We haven't had a laugh in a good while, I can't remember the last time. "

Toronto drove starter James Paxton from the game after 2 2/3 innings, over which the offense registered nine runs on seven hits, putting the game out of reach early.

Paxton, a Lander, B.C., native, endured what was his worst outing of the season, walking six of the 21 batters he faced on the night. Four of those free passes came around to score.

The Toronto offense, meanwhile, was able to put up more runs over six innings than it mustered through its first five games on its recent seven-game road trip.

Jose Bautista reached base in each of his four plate appearances on the night, and went deep with a solo shot in the fifth to tie Joe Carter for third place on the Blue Jays all-time home run list with 203. Bautista delivered at the plate and in the field, laying out to make a nice diving catch to rob Austin Jackson of a base hit in the second before he threw out Logan Morrison trying to stretch a single into a double in the fourth. Dalton Pompey got in on the defensive action as well, stretching way out in deep centre field to take away extra bases from Dustin Ackley in the fifth.

Gibbons said he expects nothing less from his group, despite the bleak outlook in the playoff race.

"These guys are paid to play pro ball, you don't take time off. I don't think where we're at dictates the effort you give, or at least it shouldn't," he said. "I mean, it's happened before, but I don't see that with this group."

Kevin Pillar hit his first homer of the season, a shot off Lucas Luetge in the bottom of the sixth. The two-run blast also scored Pompey, the last Blue Jays' starter who hadn't scored in the game up to that point.

That was more than enough run support for lefty J.A. Happ, who improved to 10-11 on the season, snapping a three-game losing streak in the process.

Despite allowing the game's leadoff hitter -- Jackson -- to score on Robinson Cano's double in a shaky first inning, Happ settled in to record his second win in his last 11 starts.

He gave up a homer and a double in the sixth, but was otherwise unchallenged, going seven innings while allowing two runs on two hits with five strikeouts.

Happ said he felt good, and when he stumbled, the defense was there to pick him up.

"We made some great plays, definitely took away three hits that I would've given up. It was fun to watch," Happ said.

With the loss -- their third straight -- the Mariners fall two games back of the Royals for the second American League Wild Card spot.

"What are you going to say, that these are the biggest games of the year? They know what's at stake," said Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon.

"These type of losses, they're bummers, because you're out of it right from the start."

Jamie Ross is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.