Major League Baseball

Pitching a concern for Mariners as they face Jays

mlb3MARINERS (50-73) AT BLUE JAYS (52-73)
3:07 p.m. ET; SN, TVAS, ROOTNW, MLB.TV

The Toronto Blue Jays (-1.5) can clinch their second straight home series Saturday with a victory over the Seattle Mariners (+1.5).

The Blue Jays took the opener of the three-game set Friday night 7-3 and set a club record when they hit back-to-back homers in the third inning for the 12th time this season. The Jays, who won two of three from the Texas Rangers (-1.5) this week, belted four homers Friday.

Toronto will start right-hander Trent Thornton (4-8, 5.34 ERA) Saturday with right-hander Reggie McClain (0-0, 4.50 ERA) opening for the Mariners.

Neither pitcher has faced the opposition before.

The teams have been going in different directions recently with the Blue Jays having won 12 of their past 18 while the Mariners have dropped 10 of 13.

Toronto’s Bo Bichette was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts Friday and failed to reach base safely for the first time in his major league career. He entered the game on a 17-game on-base streak, the second-longest streak in history to open a career for a player 21 or younger.

The Mariners will be trying to piece their pitching together over the final two games of the first series between the teams this season.

McClain made his major league debut Aug. 2 after being selected from Triple-A Tacoma, and he will be making his fourth appearance for the Mariners. His best outing was Aug. 10, when he threw three scoreless innings against the Tampa Bay Rays (-1.5).

Mariners manager Scott Servais said he hopes to get one or two innings from McClain. “And kind of match it up as we go from there,” Servais said. “He’ll be fine.”

Zac Grotz and Erik Swanson are other candidates to pitch Saturday.

It could be more interesting on Sunday to see if the Mariners have enough fresh relievers for the series finale.

“We’ll patch it together,” Servais said. “It’ll be fine. It’ll be fun. We’ll be creative with it and see what we can do.”

The Mariners used Matt Wisler as an opener Friday for the second game in a row, then got seven innings from Wade LeBlanc, who gave up seven runs, in the loss to the Blue Jays.

Thornton, who has been inconsistent this season, is coming off a good start against the New York Yankees (-1.5) on Sunday in a 1-0 loss. He allowed one run, three hits and one walk while striking out six in six innings.

The Blue Jays claimed catcher Beau Taylor off waivers from the Oakland Athletics (-1.5) on Friday and optioned him to Triple-A Buffalo. The 29-year-old will provide catching depth behind Danny Jansen, who homered Friday night, and Reese McGuire. Luke Maile, who shared the catching with Jansen, is on the injured list with an oblique strain with no timeframe set for his return.

“That will give us protection in case one of our guys gets hurt,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said.

Montoyo will determine how his two young catchers will be used for the rest of the season.

“It could be Danny Jansen, two, McGuire, one. On a day game like Sunday, whoever catches Saturday will not catch on Sunday; kind of like that,” Montoyo said. “They’ve both been playing.”

Jansen appeared in his 92nd game of the season on Friday and has turned things around after a slow start at the plate, with his average up to .217 after he collected six hits over his past three games. He likely will get more playing time down the stretch.

–Field Level Media

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