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Behind stellar pitching and extra-inning heroics, Mariners grab a needed win over Blue Jays

Ryan Divish, The Seattle Times on

Published in Baseball

TORONTO — The pitch wasn't even a strike. It was a first-pitch sinker a few inches off the outside part of the plate.

So it's difficult to know if it was executed properly by Toronto lefty Tim Mayza or by the definition of Blue Jays manager John Schneider.

But as he's been known to do in the indoor confines of the Rogers Centre, Cal Raleigh turned it into a home run.

With his team in desperate need of runs and a victory, the Mariners catcher ambushed Mayza's first pitch in the top of the 10th, sending a line drive into the visitors' bullpen for a two-run homer, igniting a five-run explosion of offense and setting up an eventual 6-1 victory.

"This is big for our team," manager Scott Servais said. "I know it's early in the season, but it's really big for our club. Putting an ending together like that in the 10th inning was great. We got some big hits. That's what we're capable of doing."

The difference between a 1-5 and 2-4 road trip doesn't seem like a lot, but for the Mariners, ending with a win does make it slightly more tolerable. They had dropped three straight games and played poorly in all facets of the game while doing so. They appeared to be on the brink of a fourth straight loss, wasting a stellar pitching performance from Logan Gilbert due to their inability to score runs.

 

But Raleigh didn't let it happen. Not that he was trying for a home run, they just sort of happen vs. the Blue Jays.

"We know he's a sinker baller and figured he was going try to get a ground ball to the pull side," Raleigh said. "I was just really trying to stay on the ball and I was just trying to move the runner. Luckily, I got the barrel out there. I was just trying to do a job."

While he will never offer it up first, Raleigh and the Mariners haven't forgotten the comments made by Schneider last year after Seattle beat the Blue Jays, 10-8, on April 30, with Raleigh hitting a pair of homers and driving in four runs.

"He's not very tough to pitch to when you execute your pitches, you know he's hitting .200," Schneider said after the game. "I know he's done damage against us. He obviously has big damage potential, but he's also got big strikeout potential, too. When you execute your pitches, you usually get the job done."

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