The Toronto Blue Jays now find themselves last in the AL East, tied with the New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles in the basement, following yet another loss at the Rogers Centre.
This time, it was a 3-2, 10-inning defeat at the hands of baseball's worst team, the Seattle Mariners.
The Mariners were 22-41, including 8-22 away from SAFECO Field, heading into the opener of their three-game series with the Blue Jays.
In typical fashion, the Blue Jays just could not get a big hit when it mattered.
And they made Jarrod Washburn, a 15-game loser last year, look like Cy Young. Washburn had posted an ERA over 10.00 in his last five appearances, and hadn't won since May 5.
Yet, there was Washburn, tossing one-run ball for six innings, and handing the game over to the bullpen with a 2-1 lead.
Blue Jays starter Jesse Litsch gave up a single to Ichiro and a home run to Jose Vidro—the first two batters of the game. He didn't allow another run the rest of the way.
It wasn't a good start by any means for Litsch, who got battered for 10 hits in his six innings. However, he didn't allow another Mariner to cross the plate.
Still, giving up a homer to Vidro, baseball's least-intimidating DH, is unforgivable.
Vidro threatened to hit another long ball with the bases juiced in the second inning, but Kevin Mench's running catch on the warning track kept the game close for Toronto.
The Jays finally plated a run in the fourth, but left two men on when David Eckstein popped out to end the threat.
With Washburn out of the game in the seventh, the Jays tied it at 2-2—but again, they could have had more.
The first two Jays up in the inning—Eckstein and Alex Rios—got on base and were sacrificed into scoring position. But ex-Jay Miguel Batista (6.06 ERA), normally a starter, came on and fanned Scott Rolen for a big out.
Vernon Wells' single tied the game, but Batista got Rod Barajas to ground out with the go-ahead runner (Rios) at third.
Again, the Jays had their chances in the ninth, but failed to capitalize.
Eckstein singled to lead off, but was promptly picked off. Rios walked.
So while the Jays had their first two men reach base, it was one on and one out.
Rios stole second and went to third on a passed ball. Once again, Rios was the go-ahead—and this time, game-winning—run, 90 feet away with two outs.
Bur Rolen again failed to get a big hit, grounding out to finish 0-for-4, and leaving six runners on base during the process.
Amazingly, for the second time in three innings, both Eckstein and Rios got on base to lead off the inning, only to see the Jays choke when their No. 3 hitter, Rolen, couldn't get a hit.
The Mariners got the go-ahead run in the 10th on a safety squeeze bunt following three walks—but the game wasn't over yet.
Toronto loaded the bases in the bottom half against Seattle closer J.J. Putz on an error, hit, and walk, and had a golden opportunity to win it.
Lyle Overbay had other ideas, though, and hit into a 3-2-3 double play, as the lead runner was thrown out at the plate.
Marco Scutaro walked to reload the bases, and Eckstein was the last hope.
Eckstein, while already two-for-three with a walk, was nonetheless trying to redeem himself for the big out in the fourth and the pick-off in the ninth.
But like the other Jays, he couldn't get it done when it mattered. A flyout to center ended the frustrating affair, and Toronto had fallen again—this time, to the worst team in the majors.
Yes, the Jays managed to get runners on base, but just couldn't score. Again.
Hitting leadoff, Rios did his job, going three-for-four. Yet he couldn't find the plate, because the No. 2 and 3 hitters, Matt Stairs and Rolen, went a combined oh-for-seven.
Wells was zero-for-five—but he was coming off an injury and actually got on base to start the 10th, so we'll cut him some slack.
Barajas couldn't get it done either in the seventh, but like Wells, reached base in the 10th.
Overbay had a big two-out RBI double in the fourth, but an even bigger double play in the 10th.
The Jays got on base, but couldn't find a way to get home. All told, 13 Toronto runners were left on base.
The alarming thing was that after Litsch's departure, the bullpen allowed zero hits to the equally anemic Mariners offense. But B.J. Ryan and loser Jason Frasor walked five batters in the last two innings, and Seattle capitalized.
So, what now for the Blue Jays?
They're seven games back of the first-place Red Sox. Is it time to think about cleaning house?
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