SEATTLE (AP) — Chris Colabello is a fast learner in the art of slowing down.
The Toronto Blue Jays’ first baseman came through in the ninth inning, bouncing a two-run, bases-loaded single to give the Blue Jays an 8-6 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Saturday.
“Earlier in my career, I remember how fast I would let things get on me,” said Colabello, now in his third big-league season. But he said he learned to “stay in the moment, slow your heart rate down. It helps that you’ve been in that situation before.”.
Josh Donaldson opened the ninth with a walk off Carson Smith (1-3). Jose Bautista then doubled into the right-field corner. It extended Bautista’s streak of reaching base against the Mariners to 36 games, including 33 with a hit. The streak dates to July 29, 2009.
Edwin Encarnacion was intentionally walked, drawing the infield in with no outs. Colabello then bounced his go-ahead single up the middle.
“My plan was to look for something up in the zone, over the plate,” Colabello said. “He missed on his first one so I figured he was going to be more aggressive. It was still in but over the plate more. I hit the top of it but thankfully I was able to shoot it through the middle there.”
Smith said, “you gotta get ahead. I didn’t do that today. I didn’t have my best stuff out there and it cost me.”
“He’s got huge hits for us all year, game-winners,” Jays manager John Gibbons said of Colabello. “He’s got that knack of putting the ball in play.”
Colabello is hitting .320 through his 61 games with nine home runs and 38 RBI.
“My whole life I’ve wanted to and been able to drive in runs,” Colabello said. “I certainly can feel a little different focus with runners in scoring position out there, especially late in the game.”
Aaron Sanchez (6-4), just off the disabled list, worked the eighth to earn the victory.
Roberto Osuna finished the ninth for his fifth save in six opportunities.
Robinson Cano had given the Mariners as 6-3 lead in the fourth with a three-run homer. Cano switched to the cleanup spot six games ago and has responded with a six-game hitting streak, a .417 average, with two home runs and seven RBI.
He now has a career .331 average with 84 extra-base hits in 164 career starts as the No. 4 hitter.
“He’s done a nice job,” Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said. “I think all our guys, from an offensive standpoint, are starting to come around.”
Jays Ezequiel Carrera tied the game at 6 in the eighth with his first career pinch-hit home run, a two-run shot to right off Fernando Rodney.
The Blue Jays have homered in eight consecutive games since the All-Star break.
Jesus Sucre, in just his 13th start at catcher for the Mariners, jolted a home run in the second. It was the first in his 126th big-league at-bat.
ALL SIX, ALL SET
After a constant shift of his lineup for four months, McClendon said, “I don’t see the first four, five, six guys in the lineup, changing.” Robinson Cano had moved to cleanup for five previous games and hit .450 with a double, triple, home run and four RBIs. Kyle Seager also had been plugged in at the second spot with slugger Nelson Cruz behind him. “It creates a lot of balance and makes it difficult to match up because of that big guy (Cruz) in the middle,” McClendon said.
ROLLING WITH SANCHEZ
Sanchez, activated Saturday after five weeks on the DL (right lat strain), will switch from starter to a long relief role. “He’s coming back in a different role but he’s going to add to our bullpen, make us that much stronger,” Gibbons said.
Mariners: LHP Charlie Furbush (left biceps tendinitis) has had a setback in his recovery. “I’m concerned about him,” McClendon said. He was close to throwing off flat ground but that’s been scratched. LHP James Paxton, on the DL since May 29 (strained tendon in his left middle finger), should begin throwing off the mound over the next day or two.
Mariners: RHP Taijuan Walker (7-7, 5.06) has had a gyrating season and right now he’s at the low end. Over his past three starts he is 0-1 with a 9.39 ERA. From May 29 to July 1, he was 6-1 with a 1.68 ERA. He’s winless in two career starts against Toronto, 0-2, 3.29 ERA
Blue Jays: LHP Mark Buehrle (11-5, 3.23) is on pace for his best (of three) seasons with the Jays and one of the best of his 16-year career. He’s tied for second in the AL in wins and first in complete games with four, one short of his career season high. He is 8-5 with a 3.57 ERA in 19 appearances against Seattle.