Blue Jays 5 Mariners 4
TORONTO — The Toronto Blue Jays closed out the home portion of their schedule with the type of victory too infrequently seen during their dismal season, one featuring some timely hitting, solid pitching and a spirited comeback.
Sunday’s 5-4 win over the Seattle Mariners — keyed by RBI singles from Jose Bautista, Adam Lind and Rod Barajas in the eighth inning — capped a 6-1 homestand and left the Blue Jays at 72-84 for the year and 44-37 at the Rogers Centre, where some of their best moments have come.
They open a three-game series in Boston on Monday before heading to Baltimore for three more starting Friday to mercifully wrap up 2009.
“The whole homestand we played great baseball,” said Barajas, who is headed for free agency.
“We took care of the home crowd. It was great for us, hopefully we can build on this going into next year.”
Brian Wolfe (2-2) gave up Mike Sweeney’s solo shot in the top of the eighth but earned the win anyway when his team rallied in the bottom half. Shawn Camp pitched the ninth for his first save.
Brian Tallet, the lefty swingman who exceeded all expectations this year, pitched seven solid innings and was touched for only three solo shots in the fifth, back-to-back jobs by Kenji Johjima and Matt Tuiasosopo, plus a blast by Franklin Gutierrez later in the inning.
But that wasn’t enough for the Mariners (80-76), as Ryan Rowland-Smith (4-4) fell apart after seven strong innings. He had surrendered only a sacrifice fly to Barajas and a generously scored RBI single to Kevin Millar in the fifth to that point.
The feel-good homestand was reminiscent of the team’s the exciting beginning, when a 27-14 start had fans believing a trip to the post-season for the first time since 1993 was a distinct possibility. But it was an illusion, built on some hot bats and a weak schedule.
Then the bottom on a flawed roster fell out. Roy Halladay was publicly placed on the trade market but ultimately kept, B.J. Ryan was released, Scott Rolen was dealt, and Alex Rios was essentially given away to the Chicago White Sox on a waiver claim.
The dream ride turned into a train wreck in an instant.
The fans soon started tuning out, a Rogers Centre record low for attendance was established when 11,159 attended Halladay’s 4-1 loss to the Twins on Sept. 9.
A crowd of 39,052 took in the finale, which pushed the season total to 1,876,129, their lowest total since 2003.