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Ty France’s two−run homer leads Mariners past Blue Jays 5−1 as Seattle avoids sweep

Vladimir Guererro Jr. and Santiago Espinal both extended their career−best hit streaks

John Chidley−Hill, The Canadian Press

Kevin Gausman had a plan when facing the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday, but they’d also worked out a strategy for him.

The Blue Jays starter allowed two runs over five innings pitched as Seattle beat Toronto 5−1. Gausman took the loss as he gave up seven hits and a walk while striking out three.

“I competed but wasn’t as sharp as I have been this year,” said Gausman, who had a 3−1 record before dropping back−to−back starts. “If you watched any of our games, you could probably tell that they did a good job of battling me.

“I mean, I gotta give them credit. They laid off a lot of really good pitches, and I really got my pitch count up.”

Ty France had a two−run blast in the seventh inning as Seattle (17−21) avoided a three−game sweep in Toronto. Cal Raleigh and Montreal’s Abraham Toro added solo home runs.

“Tonight, as a team, we had an approach and a plan and we stuck to it and it worked for us,” said France. “It’s nice seeing that stuff come together. The game plan was to lay off (Gausman’s) stuff down, and we did a good job of that, forced his pitch count up, and got him out of the game early.”

Gausman said he and catcher Danny Jansen purposely stayed away from his slider, which is usually one of his most reliable out pitches.

“They had six lefties in the lineup, and all their lefties are really good against spin in the zone,” said Gausman. “So I just kind of shelved it, threw it to the righties.”

Marco Gonzales (2−4) gave up only one run on five hits and three walks, striking out two over six innings before the Mariners bullpen closed the door.

Vladimir Guererro Jr. and Santiago Espinal both extended their career−best hit streaks for the Blue Jays (20−18). Guerrero has had a hit in 15−straight games and Espinal’s streak is now 12 games long.

Toronto manager Charlie Montoyo said his team’s recent offensive struggles are magnified when they lose close games.

“Usually, we swing the bat and everybody’s fine,” said Montoyo. “But it seems like now somebody scores four runs and it seems like 10.”

Trevor Richards, Ryan Borucki, and Ross Stripling came on in relief for Toronto. Richards allowed France’s homer and Stripling gave up Toro’s.

Gausman coughed up three consecutive singles to right field to start the first inning, loading the bases. Cleanup hitter Jesse Winkler hit a sacrifice fly — also to right field — to score Adam Frazier for a 1−0 Mariners lead.

“They got to me early in the first inning and, you know, it felt like I got through 50 pitches in the first inning,” said Gausman, who had 85 pitches in his outing. “I think at one point I was at 18 pitches and hadn’t gotten an out yet.”

Espinal continued his hit streak in the third with a single to left. He was forced out after George Springer hit into a fielder’s choice, but Toronto scratched out a run as Bo Bichette and Guerrero followed with consecutive walks to force Matt Chapman across home plate.

Raleigh led off the fifth inning with a line drive just over the left−field wall at Rogers Centre to restore Seattle’s one−run lead. The 391−foot shot was his third of the season.

France’s sixth home run of the season came in the top of the seventh. Richards had struck out two to start the inning and then Frazier singled, setting up France’s 416−foot bomb to left field for a 4−1 Mariners’ lead.

Guererro’s single to right field off of Sewald in the eighth inning extended his hit streak to 15, a new career-high. His previous best was a 14−game streak last season from Aug. 23 to Sept. 6.

Toro added to Seattle’s lead in the ninth, sending a 2−2 pitch from Stripling over the right−field fence. It was the Canadian’s fifth home run of the season.

Blue Jays left−fielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr., left the game in the sixth inning with left hamstring tightness.

TIP O’NEILL AWARD — Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who was born in Montreal while his father played for the Expos, received the 2021 Tip O’Neill Award in a pre−game ceremony. The award is given to the best Canadian baseball player by the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame. Longtime Blue Jays beat reporter John Lott received the 2021 Jack Graney Award for a lifetime of contributions to baseball in Canada.

ROMANO SICK — Toronto general manager Ross Atkins said closer Jordan Romano was recovering from a gastrointestinal infection. Romano, from Markham, Ont., had been listed as day−to−day with a non−COVID illness since Monday.

NEXT UP — The Blue Jays have Thursday off. Hyun Jin Ryu is expected to get his second start of the season on Friday as Toronto hosts the Cincinnati Reds in the first game of a three−game series. Ryu hasn’t earned a decision in his three starts this season and has a 9.00 earned−run average. Luis Castillo (0−1) is scheduled to take the mound for the Reds.

feature image: The Canadian Press