Sorry for the delay, but I had to leave the press box at Safeco and retreat back to Tacoma in search of air conditioning, which I found at the West End Pub & Grill – a one-time favorite of former Rainier and Aussie Chris Snelling.
But it was the big Aussie left-hander that stole the show today. We began the day under the idea that it could be Roy Halladay’s final start as a Blue Jay – and it still may be. And if it is, Rowland-Smith and the Mariners made sure it will go down as a loss.
The Hyphen as he is called, well, for obviously reasons, pitched his best outing this season and perhaps last, throwing seven strong innings, including the first six without giving up a hit.
“He was locked in,” Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said.
And he worked fast – think the opposite of Garrett Olson and Miguel Batista. Rowland-Smith worked with a steady pace and rhythm.
“That’s something I want to do,” he said. “I’ve had games where I’ve done that. I remember Raul telling me last year one game how much the fielder loved it.”
RRS would have had a perfect six innings had he not hit Kevin Millar with a pitch – which I thought looked like retaliation for Kenji Johjima getting hit with a pitch by Halladay in the top of the inning. But no hits, and not really any hard hit balls.
Rowland-Smith had joked that he would “need to throw a no-hitter to beat Halladay” before the game. And for six inning he was doing exactly that.
"He had to be watching Washburn," Wakamatsu said. "He pitched as good as I’ve ever seen him. To have a no-hitter against this club for six innings is pretty impressive."
It’s a team that pounded out 11 hits and scored seven runs against Felix Hernandez two days ago.
Wakamatsu raved about Rowland-Smith’s focus, which the young pitcher seemed pleased about when told. But with all that was going on with the pregame trades, wouldn’t it be hard to focus a little.
"With the moves and stuff, there seemed like a lot of positivity here in the clubhouse, to get a guy like Jack Wilson," Rowland-Smith said. "That helped me out a little bit."
RRS did admit that he it was tough to see Jeff Clement – a good friend – get traded, but most of the players seemed energized by the news.
For six innings, he was unhittable. But Aaron Hill led off the seventh with a single to left and three pitches later Adam Lind crushed a hanging slider over the wall in right to give the Jays a 2-1 lead.
"You see it a lot of times where a guy gives up a hit and he loses focus for just a bit," Wakamatsu said.
Even though RRS got out of the inning, he was still in line to take the loss unless the Mariners took the lead in the bottom of the seventh — not exactly a given if you look at their offensive output. But Michael Saunders and Ichiro came up with infield singles, Lopez later singled to load the bases and Junior drove in two with a double into right.
"I was happy, it was a special thing," Rowland-Smith said. "It was huge. I was pretty pumped up."
One of the big reasons is that it gave him a chance to pull out a win against a guy he wants to pitch like.
"He’s my favorite pitcher to watch," Rowland-Smith said. "He’s a guy who I look up to it. He competes no matter what. So to pitch against him, it was fun."
And even more fun to beat him.
BLUE JAYS NOTES:
&bull Roy Halladay allowed a season-high 11 hits and got the loss despite tossing at least 7.0 innings in his 5th straight time and for the 18th time in 20 starts…he has now lost 2 straight starts on the road (7/9 at TB) and his team has lost each of his last 5 road starts…in his career against Seattle, he drops to 5-5, 2.76 ERA (27 ER, 88.0 IP) in 14 games, 12 starts…had tossed back-to-back complete games against Seattle before today and at Safeco Field is now 3-4 with a 2.32 ERA (16 ER, 62.0 IP).
&bull Aaron Hill went 1×3, recording Toronto’s first hit in the 7th inning, extending his hitting streak to 9 games (.324/12×37). Hill ranks among AL leaders in hits (126) and total bases (217).
&bull Adam Lind went 1×4 with a home run as his first hit of the road trip. Lind ranks 1st in the AL in extra base hits (54).
&bull Marco Scutaro went 0×4, snapping his 8 game hitting streak. During the streak he batted .412 (14×35).
&bull Scott Rolen went 0×4, snapping his 6 game hitting streak. During the streak he batted .360 (9×25).
&bull Starter Ryan Rowland-Smith had a no-hitter going through 6 innings but allowed a single to lead off the 7th and was followed by a 2-run home run by Adam Lind…he tossed 7.0 innings in his 2nd straight start and has tossed at least 6.0 innings in 10 of his last 11 starts (left other game with triceps tendonitis)…in 10 starts at Safeco Field, he has allowed 3 earned runs or less in 8 of them and has a 3.47 ERA (24 ER, 62.1 IP)…in 2 starts against Toronto is 1-0, 4.22 ERA (5 ER, 10.2 IP).
&bull Ichiro Suzuki went 2×4 and has hit safely in 21 consecutive home games (.478/44×92)…today marked his 5th straight multi-hit game. Ichiro leads the Major Leagues in batting average (.368), hits (150) and multi-hit games (48).
&bull Jose Lopez went 3×4 with a double and a home run. Lopez leads the team with 24 doubles and is 2nd in extra base hits with 35. Lopez is batting .314 (58×185) over last 45 games, including season-high 3 hits 11 times.
&bull Ken Griffey Jr. went 2×4 with 2 doubles and 2 RBI… marked his 41st career multi-double game and 177th career game with at least 2 extra base hits, ranking him T5th among players since 1954. Griffey has hit safely in 17 of last 25 home games (.333/25×75).
&bull Mark Lowe recorded his 17th hold and has retired 29 of last 38 batters faced.
&bull David Aardsma recorded save #25, lowering his ERA to 1.64, 2nd among relievers in the American League behind only Joe Nathan (MIN, 1.59 ERA)…has allowed just 2 hits in his last 11 appearances (11.0 IP).
&bull The Mariners are now 11-3 in "rubber games" to decide a 3-game series and are 25-15 against the Blue Jays at Safeco Field.
&bull The temperature at the end of the game today was 91 degrees; game time temperature was 86 degrees.