The Seattle Mariners ended their woes with a superb start to a 10-game road trip. Adding to their win streak, however, could prove difficult.
The Mariners have struggled in recent visits to the Toronto Blue Jays but will try to end that trend beginning Friday night.
After dropping a season-high four in a row, Seattle bounced back to sweep three games at Detroit. Chone Figgins hit a tiebreaking double in the seventh inning of a 5-4 win Thursday and Justin Smoak provided a three-run homer in the first.
"It's all about development," manager Eric Wedge said of his young team. "Part of that development, the biggest part of it, is that we're coming to the ballpark and trying to find a way to win."
The Mariners (10-10) usually haven't found ways to win in Toronto lately, having dropped eight of nine and 30 of their last 40 there. They were swept during a three-game series at the Rogers Centre from July 19-21 and have dropped six of seven overall to the Blue Jays (10-9).
Seattle is batting .300 with four homers and 25 runs scored since Philip Humber's perfect game for the Chicago White Sox on Saturday, but will have face the streaking Ricky Romero (3-0, 3.29 ERA) in the series opener.
The left-hander won his third consecutive start Sunday by allowing two runs and five hits over eight innings of a 5-3 win in Kansas City, the second time in three starts he's lasted at least eight innings.
"I got outs and got deep into the game. That's my goal every time I take the mound," he said. "When you throw strikes and pound the zone, you keep the hitters swinging, let the defense work and get some quick innings here and there and the next thing you know you find yourself in the eighth."
The Blue Jays might need Romero's help after getting outscored 10-3 during a three-game sweep in Baltimore. They gave up three runs in the eighth inning during a 5-2 loss Thursday.
"We've got to play better collectively," manager John Farrell said. "The way this road trip started out, with a four-game sweep in Kansas City, to have it end this way kind of leaves a bad taste."
Toronto batted .168 over the three games at Camden Yards.
"I'm not really worried about the offense," said outfielder Jose Bautista, who went 1 for 11 in the series and is batting .194 thus far. "I know we're going to pick it up. Hopefully, it's sooner rather than later. Our pitching is doing awesome. On the offensive side, we'd like to give them better support."
Romero gave up four runs, five hits and four walks over 7 1-3 innings against visiting Seattle on July 21 but did not get a decision in a 7-5 win. The left-hander, who struck out nine in that game, is 1-1 with a 3.67 ERA in five career starts against the Mariners and recorded that win in his first matchup July 27, 2009.
Seattle will counter with Blake Beavan (1-2, 3.26), who had the misfortune of opposing Humber on Saturday. The right-hander has been given zero runs of support during his two losses and got none during a 5-1 home loss to Toronto on Aug. 17.
He allowed five runs over five innings during that game, all on home runs by Adam Lind, Edwin Encarnacion and Colby Rasmus.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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