The visiting Seattle Mariners came back from a seven-run deficit and beat Toronto 10-9 in a wild Game 2 on Saturday to eliminate the Blue Jays from the post-season.
Cal Raleigh doubled off Blue Jays closer Jordan Romano in the ninth inning and scored the go-ahead run when Adam Frazier lashed a two-out double into the right-field corner.
George Kirby earned the save as Seattle completed a sweep of the best-of-three wild-card series in front of a stunned sellout crowd at Rogers Centre.
Teoscar Hernandez hit two homers to help power the Blue Jays to an 8-1 lead after five innings. But Carlos Santana hit a three-run shot in the Mariners’ four-run sixth and Seattle pulled even with four more runs in the eighth inning.
It was the second time in three years that Toronto has failed to win a game in the wild-card round. The Blue Jays were swept by Tampa Bay in 2020 and missed the post-season last year.
The Mariners and Houston Astros will open the best-of-five American League Division Series on Tuesday. The Blue Jays were left to clean out their lockers after a surprising collapse and another October disappointment.
Raleigh scored three runs and had three of Seattle’s 13 hits. Danny Jansen had three hits and drove in two runs for the Blue Jays while Santiago Espinal and Alejandro Kirk added two hits apiece.
Blue Jays starter Kevin Gausman turned in a decent start that lasted 5 2/3 innings. Former Blue Jays left-hander Robbie Ray lasted three-plus frames in his first start in Toronto since signing with Seattle in the off-season.
Gausman left his last regular-season start after three innings with a cut on the middle finger of his throwing hand. He showed no ill effects in the late-afternoon start and was in full control in the early going.
He got some defensive help from Bo Bichette, who made a stellar catch in the second inning that put a charge into the crowd of 47,156.
The shortstop timed a jump perfectly to snag a liner from Frazier and Gausman followed with two strikeouts. The spark carried over into the bottom half of the frame.
Kirk led off with a double and Hernandez launched a rainbow blast for his first career playoff homer.
Ray inked a long-term deal with the Mariners after winning the AL Cy Young Award last year with Toronto. He was booed before the game and fans derisively chanted his first name at times.
He gave up another leadoff double in the third as Espinal stroked a pitch into the left-field corner. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., scorched a single up the middle to make it 3-0.
Hernandez belted a first-pitch fastball over the wall in the fourth inning to end Ray’s day. The veteran southpaw gave up six hits and four earned runs with four strikeouts.
Gausman, meanwhile, set down 10 Mariners in order before giving up a leadoff single to Frazier in the fifth.
Santana followed with a double that bounced off the top of the wall in centre field and stayed in the park. Frazier went to third and scored on a Jarred Kelenic sacrifice fly.
The Blue Jays pulled away with four runs in the bottom half. Toronto loaded the bases on an Espinal single, Bichette double and intentional walk to Guerrero.
All three players would score — on a passed ball, hit batsman and sacrifice fly, respectively — before Jansen drove in Kirk with a double to make it 8-1.
Reliever Diego Castillo took over from Paul Sewald and hit Whit Merrifield in the head with his first pitch. Merrifield was examined by a trainer and took first base but was later replaced in left field by Raimel Tapia.
The Mariners loaded the bases in the sixth but Gausman responded by getting a strikeout and pop fly. Schneider turned to the bullpen and Gausman received a standing ovation as he walked to the dugout.
Left-hander Tim Mayza came on and gave up a run on a wild pitch. Santana brought home the other runners with his first homer of the playoffs.
Jansen stroked an RBI single in the seventh inning to pad Toronto’s lead. Seattle scored a run off Anthony Bass in the eighth and put two runners on with nobody out.
Romano, from Markham, Ont., came on and gave up a single to Frazier that loaded the bases. The Toronto closer fanned Santana and Dylan Moore before J.P. Crawford lifted a blooper that landed in shallow centre field.
Bichette and outfielder George Springer collided as both players made diving attempts to catch the ball. Springer was shaken up on the play and was taken off the field on a golf cart while Bichette stayed in the game.
Jackie Bradley Jr., replaced Springer in centre field. Bichette reached third base in the bottom of the eighth but was left stranded on a Kirk groundout.
Matt Chapman reached on a one-out walk in the ninth but Kirby struck out Jansen and got Tapia on a fly out to end a game that lasted four hours 13 minutes.
Espinal, who missed two weeks with an oblique injury, got the start at second base. Jansen was behind the plate while Kirk moved to designated hitter.
Gausman allowed five hits, four earned runs and a walk. He had seven strikeouts.
Seattle blanked Toronto 4-0 in the series opener on Friday in the Blue Jays’ first home playoff game since 2016.
The Blue Jays won 92 games in the regular season — two more than Seattle — and secured the top wild-card seed with a few games left in the season. That allowed the Blue Jays to rest some core players and line up their starters on regular rest.
But it didn’t pay off against the Mariners, who travelled across the continent and weren’t intimidated by the boisterous Toronto crowds.
Toronto hasn’t won a playoff series since 2016 when the Blue Jays reached the AL Championship Series for the second straight year. The Blue Jays last won the World Series in 1993.
Seattle ended a 21-year playoff drought this season. This was for the first time the 1977 expansion cousins have played each other in the post-season.
Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press