Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 8/7/13
There were likely people around America willing to bet the mortgage on Tuesday’s game that matched the uber-struggling Josh Johnson for the Blue Jays against King Felix Hernandez and the Mariners. Felix had won six in a row last losing on May 25 while Johnson had lost six straight starts with his last victory in fact his only win of the year on June 23. Result: Jays win Jays win. Entering the series manager John Gibbons had indicated that in his opinion facing Hernandez on Tuesday and Hisashi Iwamura on Monday that if his Jays could split those two games he would be happy with that result. Following Johnson’s surprising 7-2 win supported by four shutout innings from the bullpen the Jays have taken the first two games and can secure a winning road trip with a victory from J.A. Happ on Wednesday. The Jays have now won three in a row for the first time since winning 11 straight. What was the difference between this Johnson and the one that in his previous seven starts had allowed multiple runs to an opponent within the first four innings in every outing? Three times in the last seven starts he had allowed four first-inning runs. Twice he had allowed four in the second. One difference was that Josh Thole was allowed to catch him for the first time this season. Johnson went five shutout innings allowing two walks and striking out five. Johnson believed the mechanical changes he was attempting to make would finally lead to a successful outing. He said his focus was staying more on top of his pitches which helped keep the ball down in the strike zone. “It was just a small little adjustment I made and it made a world of difference” Johnson said. The offence against Felix began on the first pitch of the game as Jose Reyes rocketed his eighth home run into the right centre field stands. Hernandez has allowed a leadoff homer in a game twice in his career. The other was to Ian Kinsler of the Rangers. After playing shoddy defence for the first six games of the road trip the Jays have rallied to be solid with the gloves while their opponents have fallen apart. Tuesday was no exception as the M’s committed four errors in the contest three by the left side of their infield. The Jays added three runs in the fourth. Emilio Bonifacio doubled home two runs on a grounder that eluded the second baseman into centre field that the speedy outfielder turned into two. He then scored on a single by Reyes to give Johnson a four-run cushion. They added a pair in the fifth on RBI singles by Rasmus and Brett Lawrie as once again the crowd at Safeco Field had a distinctly Canadian flavour. When Rasmus leaped high at the wall to steal a home run away from Kenrys Morales in the sixth the crowd erupted with chants of “Col-by Col-by Col-by.” This was partial revenge for the three-game sweep the M’s inflicted on the crowd last July. The M’s committed their fourth error in the seventh inning allowing Bautista to score all the way from first base on a double by Encarnacion. Raul Ibanez cut the ball off before it could reach the corner but in throwing back to the infield the ball slipped out of his hand and he hooked it into the grass close to his feet headed towards no-man’s land. Johnson was lifted by Gibbons after five shutout innings with two left-handed batters and a switch-hitter coming to the plate. Gibbons pulled Johnson after only 86 pitches but wanted to make sure he left with his confidence high. “He maybe had one more left in him but I figured instead of having to bail him out maybe that next inning for all that he's been through let him finish with five good strong ones" Gibbons said. "... A lot of that was let him go out on a clean slate and feel good."
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