King Felix a tough foe after marathon

 * Bob Elliott reports back from Seattle, where the Jays had to open Game 1 of their current series vs. the Mariners against ace Felix Hernandez after a marathon 19-inning affair (a Toronto win) at Rogers Centre Sunday. .... 2014 Canadians drafted … Canadians in Minors Canadians in College …. MLB Scouting Bureau camps 2015 Canadian draft list Letters of Intent

By Bob Elliott

SEATTLE -- Most of the fans came to cheer Your Toronto Blue Jays.

They came to Safeco Field wearing Brett Lawrie, Jose Bautista, Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Adam Lind and George Bell jerseys Monday night.

Roughly 55% of the crowd was expected to be from north of the border according to one Seattle Mariners official an hour before the first pitch.

M’s fans dressed in gold to cheer The King, Felix Hernandez, in sections down the left field line.

In the end, after the “Let’s Go Blue Jays, Let’s Go Blue Jays” chants died down and when you looked past Hernandez, which was difficult, it was the Cano show.

Robinson Cano, the New York Yankees free agent, Seattle signed in December to a 10-year, $240 million US contract, went deep and made like Robbie Alomar in the field as the Mariners thumped the Jays 11-1 before a sold out crowd of 41,116 -- 55% of whom went home unhappy. And this despite the fact their beloved Vancouver Canadians were in a pennant push against the hated Tri-City Dust Devils at Nat Bailey Stadium in Vancouver Monday.

The loss dropped the Jays six games behind the Baltimore Orioles -- 11-3 winners over the New York Yankees -- in the American League East, and a game back of the Mariners and two games behind the Detroit Tigers for the second wild-card spot.

Clean-up hitter Colby Rasmus doubled to right in the second but was erased when Dioner Navarro bounced sharply to second. Cano came up quickly throwing to third baseman Kyle Seager. Rasmus was out easily. Throwing to the unexpected base was Alomar’s means of attack: ball hit behind the runner, man on second none out ... runner makes an easy jog over to third ... only to find the ball waiting.

“Cano made a great play there, most second basemen won’t try that,” manager John Gibbons told reporters.

After he walked and scored in the two-run fourth against Drew Hutchison, Cano hit a 1-0 Hutchison pitch the other way to left for a lead-off homer and a 3-1 lead. And 11 hitters later, including a run-scoring double by Cano, the Mariners, tired of swinging and running the bases, were done, hanging a seven spot on the board against Hutchison and lefty Brad Mills.

“(Hutchison) kept the ball down for the first five innings and then the ball started to creep up in the zone,” Gibbons. “You don’t mind a single the other way, but Cano has good power the other way.”

Hutchison said his pitch to Cano was “a little up.”

“Down a run in the sixth, I have to go out and put up a zero,” Hutchison said. “His home run was just fair, but we lost big time.”

By then the Jays looked tired, old and like yesterday’s news ... it was almost as if they had played 19 innings on Sunday and then made the five-hour flight west. Jose Bautista and Dioner Navarro were both lifted for pinch hitters in the seventh.

Bautista said he was not injured after colliding with the wall.

Movement: LHP Brad Mills was designated for assignment after allowing five runs on three hits and hitting a batter in 2 1/3 innings. His spot will be filled on the roster before Tuesday night’s game.

Facing the King: “Let’s go, are you ready to make this guy a Prince,” Danny Valencia said to Steve Tolleson before the Jays faced their third straight former Cy Young award winner in Hernandez.

Well, Felix is still the King.

He made a record 16th consecutive start working seven innings and allowing two runs or fewer. Earlier this year he went past the likes of Hall of Famer Tom Seaver (1971), who had 13 straight. Dwight Gooden (in 1986), Chief Bender (1907), Mike Scott (1986) and Ferdie Schupp (1917) each had a dozen impressive starts.

Hernandez allowed one run in seven innings on three hits and fanned eight as he dropped his ERA two ticks to 1.95.

Going deep: We’ve heard New York Yankees fans explode when Derek Jeter gets a key two-run single at the Rogers Centre, and we’ve heard Boston Red Sox fans get excited when David Ortiz would homer off the glass of the restaurant formerly known as Windows.

But the noise Monday night when Jose Bautista hit his 23rd homer in the fourth inning beats them all. Bautista hit a 2-2 pitch 399 feet to left and it was as if Canada had won another gold at the Vancouver Olympics.

Fans in blue were not very noisy after that.

In Game: Hutchison pitched 5 2/3 innings allowing six runs on seven hits and a walk ... One out after the Cano homer, he issued a walk and then Mike Zunino hit his second triple of the year on a ball to right which turned Bautista around. Bautista was pinch hit for in the seventh. Endy Chavez’s second double chased Hutchison ... Brad Miller tripled against Mills, the first of four to reach Hutchison got in trouble in the fourth when he walked Cano on six pitches and Kendrys Morales doubled to right centre chasing Cano to third. With first base open, Hutchison fell behind Seager and his 3-0 fastball was hit deep enough to score Cano. Zunino plopped a ball inside the right field line which barely moved the blades of grass to score Morales making it 2-1. “That ball stayed just fair,” said Hutchison. ...  Logan Morrison and Chavez singled to open the third. No. 9 hitter Miller dropped a bunt and Hutchison came up ready to throw to third, but third baseman Valencia had not retreated in time, so Hutchison whirled and fired to first for the out. With runners on second and third, manager John Gibbons elected not to play the infield in and second baseman Tolleson tracked down the ball in shallow centre and Morrison held at third The right-hander retired Dustin Ackley in a grounder to escape the inning ...

Let’s play 19: Chad Jenkins worked six scoreless for the win Sunday while R.A. Dickey was warming up to pitch the 20th. That’s why after Bautista was being interviewed on TV after his walk-off single to right in the 19th, Dickey gave Bautista a thank you smooch (“a big thank you”) on the cheek for ending matters.

Before that bullpen coach Bob Stanley and bullpen catcher Alex Andreopoulos were the only two uniformed personnel in the Jays bullpen.

“It was funny when the TV would show the bullpen and they were the only two guys there,” said Dustin McGowan.

Catcher Thole said the game reminded him of a video game: “Jose Reyes would get on, they’d walk Melky Cabrera and Bautista, then they’d get us out -- including me.”

“Around the 12th or 13th, guys were thinking, 'when is this going to end?'” said infielder Tolleson. "But around the 15th or 16th, you were worried about someone getting hurt.”

So, before Sunday, what was the longest game you ever played in?

Brett Cecil: “I remember playing 18 innings once. Our team, Green Belt Post 136, beat Severna Park 3-2 (Md.) in American Legion.”

Anthony Gose: “After I was traded from the Philadelphia Phillies to the Jays, Dunedin went to Lakeland one night and we played 17.”

Dickey: “We played 14 with the Nashville Sounds once and beat the Memphis Redbirds ... on a squeeze. Later with the New York Mets we played 14. Earlier in the year, Jose Reyes played in a 21-inning game.”

Tolleson: “We played 16 with Beloit once in Lansing which was a Jays affiliate. I think I went 0-for-8.”

Aaron Loup: “They all kind of blend together once you get past the 12th, minors, college, whatever.”

McGowan: “We played 15 innings when I was with Charleston West Virginia against Charleston, S.C. I don’t remember if we won.”

We’re betting it was Charleston.

Day off for Jenkins: Coach Stanley told Jenkins he had Monday and Tuesday off after pitching six innings and throwing 73 pitches, but told him to be ready to work “three inning on Wednesday ... why not? I did.”

Stanley pitched 6 1/3 scoreless innings allowing four hits to get the 4-3 win over the California Angels for the Boston Red Sox in 1982, had two days off and then worked three innings, allowing one run, as the Sox beat the Angels 9-6 in 11 innings.

Stanley also told of winning four straight game in 1981 before heading into Milwaukee in 1981. “I take over in the 14th give up a double to Charlie Moore and Ted Simmons hits a sacrifice fly to win Game 1. I come on in the eighth and we’re up 7-4, I give up four, we lose 10-7. Next day we go to Cleveland. I come in, get an out in the seventh and our manager Ralph Houk takes me out. He says “give me the ball, no way I’m having you lose three games in two games.’” Stanley said he thanked Houk.

Marathon Numbers: Tigers and Jays pitchers threw 629 pitches -- 409 strikes in Sunday’s historic game in terms of length (19 innings) and time (six hours 37 minutes, or in other words two hours, nine minutes longer than the Jays flying time to Seattle) ... All but five of 48 players eligible appeared in the game ... Tigers (22) and Jays (17) combined for 39 hits with the Tigers hitting five doubles, as the Jays hit two doubles and one homer ... Both teams were 5-for-20 with men in scoring position, the Jays stranding 24 runners, the Tigers 19 ... Hitters struck out 33 times ... Of the 16 pitches to work David Price threw the most (112 pitches) followed by winner Jenkins (73) and Aaron Loup (five) and Phil Coke (12) the least ... You know that saying how the 27th out is the toughest? Tiger pitchers recorded 54 outs, the Jays 57 ... Gose has six at-bats and he did not enter the game until the seventh ... With five walks (two intentional) and three hits Melky Cabrera saw the most pitches (44) ... Days to forget: Rajai Davis was 0-for-8, while Nolan Reimold hitless in seven at-bats with five whiffs.