Aug 10, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays left fielder Melky Cabrera (53) celebrates the win with first baseman Jose Bautista (19) and shortstop Jose Reyes (7) during the nineteenth inning in a game against the Detroit Tigers at Rogers Centre. The Toronto Blue Jays won 6-5. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Series Preview: Can the Mariners Hold off the Surging Blue Jays?

It’s been difficult. It’s been trying. It’s been long. The home stand sure wasn’t easy but taking 2 of 3 from the Tigers after losing 2 of 3 to the Orioles keeps their tired heads held high boarding their jet after playing the longest game in Blue Jays history (in terms of innings and good old fashioned time). It can be a momentum builder yes but still safe and sorry. Haven’t been on a roller coaster since I was a young buck.

After all that happened this week and the up and down nature of the Blue Jays season in general, came the story of how Melky Cabrera did something that no one has done in 42 years…reach base 8 times. Melky is now in the same breath as Rod Carew. This team is resilient. Strong. They have the capabilities to do well if they just believe. I think they truly are starting to believe.

Melky Cabrera did something that no one has done in 42 years…reach base 8 times. Melky is now in the same breath as Rod Carew.

The Mariners are tough. Their pitching is one of the league’s best with King Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma leading the way and the somewhat surprising Fernando Rodney picking up the saves. If the Blue Jays are going to take down the Mariners and keep pushing towards a wild card spot they are going to have to out-pitch them…which may not be so difficult.

Seattle has one of the worst offenses in the American League and going by the numbers the Blue Jays have one of the best…look it up! I am not kidding you. If the Blue Jays can keep taking 2 of 3 or 3 of 4 then there is a very good chance there will be playoff baseball this year.

Probable Starting Pitchers

Game 1: Drew Hutchison (8-9, 4.39 ERA) vs Felix Hernandez (12-3, 1.97 ERA)

Hutchison had one of the best outings of his young career against division leading Baltimore. He came within one out of a complete game with 1 run given up and 8 strikeouts. He had a few rough starts before this so he clearly isn’t out of the woods yet.

He is a beast on the road (3.27 ERA compared to 6.46 at home) so perhaps facing a mediocre offense as well will help him continue to break out of his mid-season funk. If he locates his fastball as he did last time out then the Blue Jays have a chance.

To some this game is considered a gimme given King Felix’s record setting year. His 1.97 ERA and 0.88 WHIP lead the majors. So far he has gone at least 7 innings and given up 2 runs or less in 15 straight outings…a major league record. Can he make it 16 facing the Blue Jays? A betting man would but the lousy record against the Blue Jays in his last 3 starts at Safeco Field (10..80 ERA) may lend itself to the end of a streak…since streaks are all bound to end. I am out on a limb saying the Blue Jays will take this game.

Game 2: J.A. Happ (8-6, 4.09 ERA) vs Chris Young (10-6, 3.27 ERA)

Soooooo J.A. Happ, one of the players I have been all over all year has a 1.71 ERA since the All-star break. Has he turned a corner? It would appear so. Some pitchers take longer to fully develop and perhaps Happ has finally been able to gain control of his moving fastball.

His career norms indicate there is going to be regression at some point but for now let’s ride the tails of Happ and send out some positive vibes. Seattle is sometimes like a home game for the Blue Jays and since Happ pitches better at home than on the road perhaps he will get fooled in a good way.

Back in 2007 I was all in on Chris Young. A tall fireballer that seemed to be able to cruise through a game with an effortless delivery. I wanted the Blue Jays to trade for him. Well time and a few injuries later and Young finds himself back in form and healthy for the first time in years. He seems to still have it as evidenced by his ERA and his WHIP (1.14).

He doesn’t strikeout many these days and relies more on location than pure stuff…something all good pitchers eventually figure out. He is much better at home than the road so unfortunately I see the Mariners being able to pull this one out.

Game 3: R.A. Dickey (9-11, 3.99 ERA) vs Hisashi Iwakuma (10-6, 2.86 ERA)

Dickey just keeps on going. Average stats for an average arm at this point in his career. He will never be the Cy Young Dickey anymore. He of the fast-knuckle now just keeps his team in the game. He has become the Jack Morris of knuckleballers.

Dickey is a great leader and clubhouse presence but he definitely has had his time. If he can step it up juuuust a little bit more than the Blue Jays truly have a shot at post-season play. If not it may just be 21 years and counting…

Iwakuma has become a great find for Seattle. His WHIP is under 1, he doesn’t give up a lot of hits and he is equally as good at home (2.88 ERA) as he is away from home (2.82 ERA). He doesn’t necessarily overpower hitters but rather he just knows how to pitch.

He has picked it up somewhat since the all-star break and given a clean bill of health he is falling back in line as one of he best pitchers on a great pitching team. Given his opponent I may just have to give this one to the Mariners….dammit.

Probable Starting Lineups

Toronto Blue Jays

2. LF: Melky Cabrera
3. RF: Jose Bautista
4. C: Dioner Navarro
5. DH: Adam Lind
6. CF: Colby Rasmus
7. 1B: Juan Francisco
8. 3B: Steven Tolleson
9. 2B: Munenori Kawasaki

Seattle Mariners

1. CF: Austin Jackson
2. LF: Dustin Ackley
3. 2B: Robinson Cano
4. 1B: Kendrys Morales
5. 3B: Kyle Seager
6. C: Mike Zunino
7. DH: Logan Morrison
8. SS: Chris Taylor
9. RF: Endy Chavez

Worth the Price of Admission: Felix Hernandez. Nothing like checking out a potential hall of famer in his prime!

Worth the Price of an Original Cup of Starbucks Pike: Fernando Rodney: He can be great but you never know where that fastball is going to go. He is a character but I really want to turn his cap the right way….jeebus!

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