SEATTLE – Brett Cecil left his eye glasses back in Toronto. He left his last, awful start there, too.
Cecil pitched into the seventh inning after lasting just two in his previous outing and Kevin Gregg hung on for the save Wednesday night as the Blue Jays beat Seattle 3-2, sending the Mariners to their fifth straight loss.
Seattle put two runners on base with two outs in the ninth, but left-fielder Fred Lewis ran down Mike Sweeney’s long fly into the alley to end yet another Mariners disappointment.
It also ended a potentially harrowing start that ended up great for Cecil (3-2).
“This should be a fun night. I don’t have my glasses,” the left-hander told catcher John Buck before the game.
“I’m sure it might freak batters out a little bit, seeing me go like this,” Cecil said later, with an exaggerated squint.
Everything is freaking out the Mariners these days.
Milton Bradley returned to the team and had his fourth two-hit game of the season. He was out for two weeks after asking the team for counselling help to deal with personal and emotional issues. Yet the “buzz” manager Don Wakamatsu said Bradley’s return brought to the clubhouse fizzled as Seattle’s Doug Fister fell behind 3-0 early.
The Mariners lost for the seventh time in 10 games to sink to 12 games under .500 and 8½ back in the AL West in their season of playoff expectations.
They are 4-11 in one-run games. Five of those narrow losses have come in the last week.
“Number one, you come in here for the fans and the city of Seattle and you want to represent them in the right way,” Wakamatsu said. “What I care about is playing games like we did tonight. These guys came out and played hard and it was a good effort. That’s a start in trying to turn this thing around.
“I have to remain pretty strong through this thing so the club can. I believe in these guys. And I believe we can turn this around.”
Cecil, a triple-A starter to begin the season, featured a 96 mile-per-hour fastball while allowing two runs and seven hits in 6 1-3 innings — even though he often had to ask Buck for repeat signs because he couldn’t see them. He had given up eight runs against Texas Friday.
Gregg retired pinch-hitter Ken Griffey Jr. — who is now batting .183 without a home run — on a meek, infield popup and Ichiro Suzuki on a fly out before walking Chone Figgins in the ninth. Franklin Gutierrez singled and Sweeney flied out, giving Gregg his AL-leading 12th save in 13 chances.
Fister (3-2) entered the night leading the AL with a 1.72 ERA. Then in the first four innings he allowed three runs, as many as he had allowed in any of seven previous starts this season.
After Lewis hit a sacrifice fly to make it 1-0 in the third, Fister threw 31 of his 108 pitches in his messy fourth.
Alex Gonzalez’s single scored Adam Lind, who had doubled leading off. Fister walked Jose Bautista to load the bases and hit Buck in the left elbow with a 2-2 fastball. That forced in Lyle Overbay to make it 3-0.
Toronto held on to improve the majors’ best record since April 29 to 15-5.
Bradley thanked Seattle’s fans for what he called an “overwhelming” amount of encouraging mail and cards while he was gone on the restricted list.
Seeing seven and eight pitches in grinding at-bats, baseball’s self-described bad guy had a broken-bat single in the fourth, then an infield single against Scott Downs to become the potential tying run with one out in the eighth.
Afterward he talked more about the team needing to keep its collective heads up than about his successful return.
“My goal is to conduct myself in a professional manner and represent this organization well,” he said.
NOTES: Toronto recalled former Mariners OF Jeremy Reed from Triple-A Las Vegas, after the Blue Jays granted 1B Randy Ruiz his release so he could sign with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles in Japan. Manager Cito Gaston said other, younger players in the minors were hitting better than Reed but didn’t deserve to come up and play only sporadically like Reed likely will. … Seattle sent RHP Sean White to Triple-A Tacoma to make roster room for Bradley.