When the Toronto Blue Jays travel to Seattle, it’s often difficult to determine who the home team actually is.
Thousands of Blue Jays fans from throughout western Canada flock to T-Mobile Park to cheer on their national team.
As Mariners ace Marco Gonzales put it in 2018: “I take that personally when a team comes in here and brings their faithful fans and their muddy shoes and stomps on our carpet and takes a dump on our dining room table.”
Only this weekend, the Blue Jays’ fans not only won’t have a seat at the table, they won’t even be able to get into the house.
While Canadian officials opened the U.S.-Canada border to vaccinated Americans earlier this week, the U.S. has yet to reciprocate due to a spike in coronavirus cases. The land border is closed to outsiders until at least Aug. 21.
That means the host Mariners might actually feel like the home team when they open a three-game series against the Blue Jays on Friday night.
Mariners manager Scott Servais was asked at the time about his reaction to Gonzales’ comments.
“Yeah, let me see if my table is clear,” Servais said, while looking under some paperwork and laughing. “I thought it was a tremendous line. It was the best line I’ve heard from one of our players (since) I’ve been here. It was incredible.
“(The Toronto fans) have been loud. … I don’t like it. The players don’t like it. We’ve had enough of it. But there’s only one way to make it stop.”
Servais was referring to winning, but it turns out there are two ways — the second, of course, a global pandemic.
This weekend’s series is important for both teams, as the Blue Jays are 2 1/2 games back in the race for the American League’s second and final wild-card playoff berth and the Mariners are 4 1/2 games out.
The Blue Jays were shut down by Shohei Ohtani in a 6-3 loss to the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday night in Anaheim, Calif. It was just the fourth defeat for Toronto in its past 16 games.
Despite a potent offense, the key to the Blue Jays’ recent run has been their pitching. Entering Thursday’s game, their starters were 9-1 with a 2.16 ERA over the previous 15 games.
“When your rotation is performing, there’s a feeling in the clubhouse and during the course of the game, especially early, that if we put some runs on the board we’re going to be in good shape,” Blue Jays pitching coach Pete Walker said. “It’s just a comfort level where they don’t have to put too much pressure on themselves.”
Toronto left-hander Robbie Ray (9-5, AL-leading 2.90 ERA) is scheduled to start the series opener Friday against Mariners right-hander Chris Flexen (10-5, 3.81).
Ray is 1-1 with a 3.91 ERA in four career starts against Seattle. He beat the Mariners 9-3 on June 29 in Buffalo, N.Y., when he allowed three runs on five hits in six innings, with 10 strikeouts.
Flexen started against Ray in that game, his only previous appearance against the Blue Jays, but didn’t get a decision as he gave up three runs on seven hits in five innings.
The Mariners have won two in a row, including a 3-1 decision Thursday afternoon against visiting Texas as Gonzales pitched a two-hitter and J.P. Crawford and Jake Fraley hit solo home runs.
–Field Level Media