Posted on 29 April 2012.
With his idol watching from the visitors’ dugout, Henderson Alvarez ended a long wait between wins on Sunday.
Edwin Encarnacion hit his third home run in three games, Alvarez won for the first time since August and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Mariners 7-2.
Alvarez (1-2) allowed one run and six hits in six-plus innings to win for the second time in 15 major league starts. The right-hander, whose only other victory came at Baltimore last Aug. 31, walked a career-high three and struck out one.
Jeff Mathis added a two-run homer as Toronto broke open a close game with a five-run eighth inning.
”(Alvarez) did well,” Mathis said. ”He threw his sinker and kept it down in the zone. He got a lot of early outs and ground ball outs. That was the key to his success today.”
Chone Figgins and Miguel Olivo hit solo homers for the Mariners, who lost their second straight.
”We had some good hacks at him but he started changing speeds, started taking something off his fastball,” Figgins said. ”I think he saw that we were seeing his pitches and started taking a lot off his fastball.”
Alvarez was born in the same Venezuelan city as Mariners ace Felix Hernandez and has acknowledged modeling his game on the Seattle righty, a two-time All Star and the 2010 AL Cy Young winner.
Opposing batters are noticing the similarities, too.
”Everything he does, Felix does,” Mariners catcher Olivo said of Alvarez. ”That’s good when you follow a big superstar like that. One day he’s going to be the same thing.”
The Mariners jumped in front early when Figgins drilled Alvarez’s sixth pitch of the game over the wall in right, his second leadoff shot this season.
Seattle left-hander Jason Vargas (3-2) held Toronto hitless until Eric Thames’ two-out double in the fourth, an otherwise routine fly ball that dropped in front of Figgins in left.
”I broke back,” Figgins said. ”I felt bad that (Vargas) was going so good and had a no-hitter going for me to break back. (Thames) took a big swing, he was up in the count. I didn’t know he hit it off the end of the bat.”
The hit moved Encarnacion, who had walked, up to third base, but Vargas escaped when Figgins caught Lawrie’s fly ball for the third out.
The Blue Jays broke through against Vargas in the fifth. Rasmus led off with a single, advanced to second on a grounder and scored on a two-out base hit to right by Kelly Johnson.
Alvarez was replaced by Evan Crawford after Munenori Kawasaki’s leadoff single in the seventh. Figgins sacrificed Kawasaki to second but Crawford got Dustin Ackley and Ichiro Suzuki to ground out.
Encarnacion had a solo homer in Toronto’s 9-5 defeat Friday and hit his fourth career grand slam in Saturday’s 7-0 win. He went deep again in the finale, lacing a tiebreaking drive to left in the sixth off Vargas. Encarnacion’s homer was his team-leading seventh.
Encarnacion, who walked in his first two plate appearances Sunday, was hit on the left arm by Steve Delabar in the eighth, responding with a long stare at the mound.
”I can’t say whether that pitch got away from them intentionally or what,” Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. ”But we answered the right way.”
Charlie Furbush replaced Delabar before Jose Bautista, who had led off with a single, and Encarnacion pulled off a double steal. Pinch hitter Rajai Davis was intentionally walked before Brett Lawrie hit a two-run double. One batter later, Davis scored on an errant pickoff throw by Olivo. Colby Rasmus struck out before Mathis homered into the second deck in left, his second.
Davis injured his right wrist diving back to third on Olivo’s throw and left the game. He was replaced by Ben Francisco in the ninth.
Casey Janssen worked the eighth and Francisco Cordero gave up Olivo’s second homer of the season in the ninth.
NOTES: Figgins also hit a leadoff homer in Seattle’s 4-1 win at Cleveland on April 18. … Seattle announced that LH George Sherrill will undergo season-ending elbow surgery on May 4. Sherrill appeared in two games this year. … Mariners SS Brendan Ryan, who is stuck in an 0 for 18 slump, was held out of the starting lineup and replaced by Munenori Kawasaki. 1B Justin Smoak, mired in a 2 for 27 slide, also got the day off. Smoak and Ryan are both expected to start Monday at Tampa Bay.