* Blue Jays fans flocked to Safeco Field from Saskatchewan, Alberta and B.C. -- 55% of sales for Monday's opening night sellout were from north of the border, according to a Seattle Mariners official. Photo: Scott MacArthur, Studio 162. .... 2014 Canadians drafted … Canadians in Minors … Canadians in College 2015 Canadian draft list Letters of Intent
By Bob Elliott
SEATTLE _ Casey Janssen sat alone at a card table tapping an empty water bottle Wednesday night.
All around him players were packing equipment bags.
Players were dressing quietly.
A bus was waiting.
The Blue Jays had been swept after dropping the finale of their series 2-0 to the Seattle Mariners and were leaving under the cover of darkness bound for Chicago.
Janssen looked down ... as down in the dumps.
“It’s too bad,” said Janssen, who didn’t even pitch in the series.
He was talking about more than the Jays being swept.
“We had so many fans here, we got so much support, it’s a shame we didn’t give them more to cheer about, that we didn’t give them some wins,” Janssen said.
The Jays, who arrived deadlocked with the Mariners, 1 1/2 games behind the second wild-card spot. were outscored 19-4 in the three games.
They lefty three games behind the Detroit Tigers and the Mariners who share the second wild card spot.
The Jays play 81 games on the road.
You had the impression for some Jays this was like pitching in the state final ... before grandpa and grandma ... and losing.
“We see more Canadians here than any city we visit,” said Janssen. “Fans would stop us on the street, ask for an autograph and say how they drove down from B.C.”
A Mariners official estimated that 55% of Monday night’s sold out crowd of 41,168 were from north of the border. That ratio only had to go up the next two nights since Felix Hernandez was not on the mound Tuesday and Wednesday while the cheers for the Jays remained constant.
The closer made his debut in 2006 is the senior Jay in terms of continuous service.
“At home our fans don’t get to see batting practice because the gates aren’t open yet,” Janssen said. “This was an electric atmosphere. Guys would hit a couple out during BP and fans would applaud. They’d cheer on a guy to hit another one. There were a lot of oohs and aahs at the distance some of the balls travelled.”
Outside of Jose Bautista’s home run off Hernandez to put the Jays up 1-0 on Monday and Tuesday when Melky Cabrera putting the Jays up 1-0 with a double and Bautista doubling again in the eighth and fans chanting Munenori Kawaski’s name ... there were not a lot of cheers, oohs, aahs or much else from the Canuck fans.
Good pitching or bad hitting: How bad was the Blue Jays hitting?
Or rather how good is the Mariners pitching?
Which is the question that needs an answer after the Mariners swept the Jays in a three-game series.
“It wasn’t a good one for us, getting swept is never good,” said Bautista, one of the few Jays hitters who didn’t look out of place this series going 3-for-10 (.300) with a homer.
“They’re pitching pretty good right now,” said Bautista. “I heard on TV before the game that they were trying to become the first team since the 1974 Oakland A’s to have a team ERA under 3.00. That covers a lot of ground.”
Bautista, as always, knows his numbers. With Wednesday’s shut out the M’s lowered their team ERA to 2.95. A team has not had that low an ERA since the World Series champion A’s with Hall of Famers Catfish Hunter and Rollie Fingers, along with Vida Blue, Ken Holtzman, Paul Lindblad and Blue Moon Odom.
Seattle relievers have the lowest ERA (2.34) and the same goes for the M’s rotation (3.24).
The M’s began the month losing two of three in Baltimore to the Orioles, losing 2-1 and 1-0, returned home to sweep a two-game series from the Atlanta Braves, take three of four from the Chicago White Sox and then sweep the Jays to finish an 8-1 homestand. In three games the M’s allowed three runs, five times they allowed two, three times only one run and Wednesday was their first shutout.
“The first game they took advantage of our mistakes facing Felix,” Bautista said. “Our pitchers (JA Happ and R.A. Dickey) gave us a chance the second two games. We thought Young might be the easiest game, but he made all his pitches in the zone. Iwakuma has a career ERA under 3.00.
“Pitching is their strength.” Said closer Janssen: “Following Hernandez works in Young’s favor, he threw all his pitches for strikes. Watching from the bullpen it seemed like (Young) didn’t miss a spot the whole night.”
Good pitching (the M’s came in with the best ERA in the AL) beat good hitting (the Jays had the second highest average). “The bottom line is we have to go forward,” Bautista said as the Jays left for Chicago and a three-game series and then on to Milwaukee for a pair.
“We can still finish up with this being a good road trip.”
And your starter would be: Manager John Gibbons was talking pitching in Seattle. How the Jays have five solid starters in Mark Buehrle, Marcus Stroman, Drew Hutchison. Dickey and Happ. but no one to match the ace status of King Felix Hernandez. “Stroman has probably been the best,” said Gibbons before Dickey allowed a first-inning homer to Kendrys Morales in a 2-0 loss to the M’s, completing the Seattle sweep. So, if everything was equal, if everyone was rested, who would you start if you had one game to win? “Felix,” he said jokingly.