SEATTLE — Jose Reyes homered on the first pitch of the game, added an RBI single to cap Toronto’s big fourth inning, and the Blue Jays handed Seattle ace Felix Hernandez his first loss since late May with a 7-2 win over the Mariners on Tuesday.
The Blue Jays battered Hernandez (11-5) and knocked him out after just five innings, matching his shortest start of the season.
A leading contender for a second AL Cy Young Award, Hernandez got no help from his defense that committed three errors that led to three unearned runs while he was on the mound.
Despite lasting just five innings, Hernandez’s ERA only rose from 2.30 to 2.39. Hernandez had not lost since May 25, a span of 12 starts. Toronto’s Josh Johnson (2-8) pitched well with his potential spot in the rotation at stake. Johnson threw five scoreless innings and won for the first time since June 23, snapping a six-game losing streak.
Reyes brought the huge contingent of Blue Jays fans to their feet from the start. He lined Hernandez’s first fastball of the night 399 feet into the seats in right for his eighth homer of the season. It was Reyes’ 18th career leadoff homer and first this season.
For Hernandez, it was just the second leadoff homer allowed in his career — and a precursor to a tough night.
Toronto scored three times in the fourth helped by two Seattle errors. Emilio Bonifacio had the big hit with a two-out double into the gap in right-center field.
Toronto’s offensive output made it an easy night for Johnson, who in his previous four starts had an ERA of 14.06, but was masterful against the Mariners.
It was the second time this season Johnson didn’t allow a run and a key for him was getting out of the first when Seattle had runners on the corners and one out. Johnson got Kendrys Morales to ground into a double play and Seattle never got a runner to third base until the seventh on Miller’s two-run triple.
Seattle shakes up staff
Former closer Tom Wilhelmsen was demoted to the minors by the Seattle Mariners in the hopes he can rediscover command of his pitches. Seattle optioned Wilhelmsen to Triple-A Tacoma on Tuesday. He instantly took the mound in Tacoma, pitching two innings in a day game.
Seattle also said it was recalling Franklin Gutierrez from his minor-league rehab assignment, although he remains on the disabled list, and released outfielder Jason Bay, who was designated for assignment late last month.