The Seattle Mariners may have a bullpen controversy looming.
With his regular closer fresh off the disabled list, Seattle manager Bob Melvin has elected to stay with the hot hand as the Mariners continue their four-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays at Safeco Field.
On the disabled list since June 11 because of fractured ribs sustained when he fell down his stairs while carrying a suitcase, Kazuhiro Sasaki was activated Tuesday.
“It’s a 100 percent recovery,” the Japanese right-hander said through an interpreter.
But he didn’t return to his normal role.
Though Sasaki has saved 129 games for Seattle since joining the club in 2000, the Mariners are sticking with Shigetoshi Hasegawa, who has been one of the most dominant pitchers in the game.
The Japanese right-hander converted his 11th save in as many chances in Tuesday’s 3-1 victory over the Blue Jays, Seattle’s third win in four games. He has not allowed a run in 26 innings since June 1.
However, Melvin maintains that Hasegawa will become a setup man after the Mariners ease Sasaki back into the closer’s role.
“Our bullpen sets up best when Kaz is closing,” Melvin said. “When he’s ready, he will go back into that role, but we have to work our way into that.
“Shiggy has done a good job and we are comfortable with him right now.”
Though the Blue Jays have lost five of eight and are 10 games behind the AL wild card-leading Oakland Athletics, manager Carlos Tosca believes his club still has a shot at securing a postseason berth.
“For about six weeks we have not played very good,” Tosca said. “But I think we have one more good run in us.”
STANDINGS: Blue Jays - 3rd place, 13 GB, AL East. Mariners - 1st place, AL West.
BLUE JAYS PROBABLE STARTER: Corey Thurman (1-1, 4.15 ERA). Thurman was inserted into the rotation Aug. 2 and debuted with a 6-1 win over Anaheim, scattering four hits over six innings. However, the 24-year-old right-hander didn’t make it out of the first inning in his second start, Friday’s 5-3 loss to Texas. Thurman was reached for five runs and six hits, including three homers, over two-thirds of an inning, walking one without notching a strikeout. Thurman is 0-1 with an 11.57 ERA in four career relief appearances against Seattle.
MARINERS PROBABLE STARTER: Ryan Franklin (8-10, 3.55 ERA). Franklin is coming off his worst outing of the season, allowing eight runs—three earned— and nine hits over 5 1-3 innings of Friday’s 9-7 loss to the New York Yankees. The veteran right-hander, who was 2-1 with a 2.05 ERA in his previous three starts, is 0-1 with a 13.06 ERA in five career appearances against Toronto.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Blue Jays - Vernon Wells, .308 avg.; Carlos Delgado, 32 HRs, 112 RBIs and 92 runs; Bobby Kielty, 6 SBs. Mariners - Ichiro Suzuki, .338 avg., 86 runs and 28 SBs; Bret Boone, 29 HRs and 92 RBIs.
SEASON SERIES: Tied, 1-1.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Blue Jays - SS Mike Bordick went 1-for-4 Tuesday to extend his career-high hitting streak to 19 games. He is batting .384 (28-for-73) in that span. … The Blue Jays have outhomered opponents 75-57 on the road. … Toronto has not had a winning season against the Mariners since going 7-4 in 1998. Mariners - The Mariners bullpen had a 4-5 record during RHP Sasaki’s two stints on the DL this year, compared to 9-1 mark when he was with the club. … The Mariners have allowed at least one home run in each of their last nine games. … SS Rey Sanchez, filling in for the injured Carlos Guillen, is hitting .341 (14-for-41) since the Mariners acquired him from the New York Mets on July 29.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Blue Jays - 33-28 on the road; Mariners - 36-25 at home.
INJURIES: Blue Jays - RHP Cory Lidle (groin), 15-day DL; RHP Pete Walker (calf), 15-day DL; LHP Doug Creek (elbow), 60-day DL; RHP Bob File (calf), 60-day DL. Mariners - 3B Jeff Cirillo (shoulder), 15-day DL; INF Greg Colbrunn (wrist), 15-day DL; SS Guillen (pelvis), 15-day DL.
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