SEATTLE — Bo Bichette and Teoscar Hernandez hit solo home runs, and the Toronto Blue Jays spoiled Felix Hernandez’s return to the mound, beating the Seattle Mariners 7-5 on Saturday night.
Felix Hernandez struck out four over 5 2/3 innings and allowed just three hits in his first appearance since May 11. However, Toronto took advantage of Seattle’s bullpen and rallied with a four-run seventh inning to snap a six-game losing streak.
Billy McKinney, Bichette, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Rowdy Tellez drove in runs in the inning as the Blue Jays batted around. Teoscar Hernandez led off with a walk — one of three the Blue Jays patiently earned in the inning — and scored, while Bichette drove in McKinney with a single and scored. Bichette was 3 of 5 in the game with three RBIs.
Felix Hernandez pitched well for stretches in his first action since injuring his pitching shoulder. The big right-hander, in the final year of his contract with the Mariners, hopes the final five weeks of the season will serve as proof he still has a major league arm. His latest outing went a long way to showing that.
With the stadium screens reading “Happy Felix Day,” he got through the first six batters in order on 16 pitches. He helped himself by hustling to first base to earn a force out on Cavan Biggio’s grounder to first in the first inning. And in the second, he charged Justin Smoak’s comebacker and made a hot throw to first for another out.
Teoscar Hernandez led off the third with his 20th home run, into the second deck in left field. Bichette followed two batters later with his eighth home run to tie the score at 2-all. Felix Hernanadez then walked Biggio and hit Vladimir Guerrero Jr., before inducing a groundout to get out of the inning.
He faced the next nine batters without allowing a hit and was pulled after his 88th pitch, a double by Randal Grichuk.
The former Cy Young winner passed Christy Mathewson to move into 37th on the career strikeouts list with 2,505. He received a standing ovation as he came off the field from both fan bases, and gave a quick wave in acknowledgment.
The tens of thousands of Blue Jays fans in attendance cheered for their own team the rest of the way while the Mariners bullpen gave away the game — as they have for much of Hernandez’s career.
Matt Wisler and Reggie McClain (0-1) each lasted one-third of an inning in the seventh. The Blue Jays rocked Wisler for three runs on two hits and a walk to tie the game 5-all. Then McClain gave up two walks and a run-scoring double to Tellez for a 6-5 lead.
Kyle Seager doubled in two runs for a 2-0 lead in the first and Omar Narvaez hit a three-run homer in the fifth that made it 5-2.
Brock Stewart (3-0) earned the win in his return from the 60-day injured list, though he never pitched with the lead. He was replaced in the bottom of the seventh following the Blue Jays’ rally. He gave up seven hits and three runs, while striking out four.
Toronto relievers walked three batters in the eighth inning to put the game in jeopardy, but Bichette threw out Daniel Vogelbach at home with an odd lob that nevertheless beat the designated hitter to home plate. And after Derek Law walked Mallex Smith to load the bases, Biggio gathered in J.P. Crawford’s hard-hit grounder while running and sliding to his left, and threw to first to end the threat.
The Blue Jays have turned T-Mobile Park into Toronto West this weekend. When gates opened Saturday afternoon, hundreds of Canadians sprinted down the aisles and lined the third base line wall eight deep to watch their favourite team warm up.
By game time, raucous Blue Jays fans easily outnumbered hometown supporters 2-to-1. Most drove down from nearby Vancouver, British Columbia, a road trip that’s becoming an annual tradition.
“It’s pretty cool,” Toronto manager Charlie Montoyo said. “I’m glad I was here to watch it. It’s awesome actually.”
Seattle’s Scott Servais isn’t as fired up about that crowd, as you might expect.
“It’s just good if you can keep ‘em quiet,” he said. “That’s what we did last night and hopefully we can do it again tonight.”
Blue Jays: Montoyo held Reese McGuire out of Saturday’s game with a bruised hand. The catcher injured his left, glove hand on a wild pitch in Friday night’s loss to the Mariners. He was available Saturday in an emergency. .. Closer Ken Giles is expected to rejoin the team from the paternity list on Sunday.
Mariners: OF Mitch Haniger says trainers no longer have a timeline for his return from the injured list after a visit with doctors on Friday. He’s now recovering from a back injury suffered while trying to return from testicle surgery. Asked why not just shut it down for the year, the former all-star said, “Just because playing makes me happy, competing makes me happy. I’ve kind of accepted I don’t have control over it. All I can control is trying to get better every day.”
Blue Jays: RHP Clay Buchholz (0-2, 6.57 ERA) returns from the 60-day injured list after an injured right shoulder sidelined him in early May.
Mariners: LHP Marco Gonzales (13-10, 4.30 ERA) makes his second career start against the Blue Jays.