Bloomquist hit the first pitch from Shawn Camp for a game-winning single in the ninth-inning that scored Raul Ibanez from second base as the Mariners rallied from four runs down to beat the Toronto Blue Jays 7-6 on Tuesday night.
“Guys just kept battling and kept getting after it,” said Bloomquist, who has spent much of his career as a defensive replacement and pinch runner. “Even in our situation, guys are playing hard and not giving up. We’re doing the best we can to win every game we can.”
Ibanez opened the inning with a walk off Scott Downs (0-2), who was charged with his first run in 26 innings. Jose Vidro bunted him to second. Adrian Beltre, who had three hits, including a two-run home run, was intentionally walked. Camp was ushered in and one pitch later it was over.
“My game centers around ground balls, righty-on-righty situations. It was just a lack of execution,” Camp said. “First pitch breaking ball (slider) just up and he drove it.”
Down 6-2 in the sixth, the Mariners scored one in the sixth, two in the seventh and one in the eighth to tie the game. Richie Sexson provided the eighth-inning tying run with a leadoff home run. It was his 10th, but first since May 24.
“Richie came up big for us. Bloomquist, of course, Beltre. These guys have been working so hard and competing so hard and not getting anything to show for it,” said Mariners manager Jim Riggleman, who is 7-4 since taking over for John McLaren on June 20. “When you put together a few wins, you just really feel good for them. When guys are struggling, it’s tough being at the plate.”
Sexson exited the clubhouse through the back door without speaking to the media. But Beltre served as his impromptu spokesman.
“I feel great for him because he’s swinging the bat real well the last two weeks and has nothing to show for it,” Beltre said. “He can now relax and just try to hit the ball somewhere. He hit the home run. I think more home runs are going to come after this one.”
“It’s a tough loss,” said Jays manager Cito Gaston, who took over the same day as Riggleman. “Anytime you lose a ballgame like that it’s a tough loss.”
Ryan Rowland-Smith, the Mariners middle reliever and lefty specialist, was pushed into his first career start because of injuries to starters Felix Hernandez and Miguel Batista. He started strong, throwing first-pitch strikes to nine of the first 11 batters and threw only six balls (27 strikes) in his first three innings, allowing just one hit.
But he was exposed in the fourth as Toronto scored three runs.
With one out, Gregg Zaun hit an apparent single to left, scoring Rios from third. But Wells, believing the ball would be caught by the shortstop, broke back to second. Left-fielder Ibanez then threw the ball to third for the force-out, turning a clean single into a fielder’s choice. Lind finished the scoring and Rowland-Smith’s outing with a RBI single to right.
“Giving up that leadoff hit then the walk it felt like things were starting to speed up,” said Rowland-Smith, a native of Australia. “I felt good the first three innings, feeling comfortable. I had a pretty tight pitch count so I started looking toward getting five innings, a little too early. They jumped on me pretty quick.”
The Mariners answered with a pair of unearned runs in the bottom of the fourth. One scored on starter Jesse Litsch’s throwing error and the other on Betancourt’s RBI single to right.
An error by Mariners second baseman Jose Lopez opened the Jays’ three-run sixth. Wells started it with a single to center off Roy Corcoran. Overbay followed with a potential double-play grounder to Lopez but it ducked under his glove for an error. After Rolen walked, Zaun stroked a RBI single to right and Lind drilled a two-run double to left.
Betancourt had a two-out RBI single in the sixth. Beltre lined his two-run home run - his 16th - down the right-field line in the seventh on a 0-2 pitch from Jesse Carlson.
It was Canada Day Tuesday and the Mariners used it as a promotion to attract more fans from nearby Vancouver, B.C. What it did is fill the stands with a large and vocal contingent of Blue Jay fans. “If you can’t be at home,” Gaston said, “this is the second best place to be.” … Jays’ DH Matt Stairs’ sister Martha Cormier is a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. She carried the Canadian flag onto the field before the game.