SEATTLE — After Wednesday’s game, an usher at Safeco Field could be seen lugging a large supply of brooms left behind by Blue Jays fans, who once again staged a takeover of the Mariner facility.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the sweep anticipated by the visitors from the North: the Mariners roared from five runs down to pull off a 9-7 victory.
That outcome seemed remote when beleaguered starter Aaron Harang trudged off the mound in the third inning with the Mariners trailing 7-2. But the Seattle offense erupted for six runs in the fifth to take the lead to stay, and five Mariners relievers bailed out Harang with seven scoreless innings.
“We’ve had that done to us in the past,’’ said acting manager Robby Thompson, who only had to go back a few days for the painful memory of the M’s blowing a 7-1 lead in Boston. “I’d like to think we kind of returned the favor today.
“I’m proud of the guys. They should be proud of themselves, offensively and in the bullpen.”
Offensively, the Mariners’ 11-hit attack was jump-started by struggling Nick Franklin, who broke out of an 0-for-27 slump in the first inning with a run-scoring triple. Justin Smoak did some rare damage from the right side with a tying two-run double in the big fifth. The inning was capped by catcher Humberto Quintero’s two-run home run.
On the relief side, Brandon Maurer took over for Harang after two mammoth Blue Jays home runs to start the third, and blanked the Blue Jays for 31 / 3 innings. Not that it was a smooth ride — Maurer walked five and gave up three hits — but the Blue Jays couldn’t get the big hit they needed.
Maurer was bailed out by Charlie Furbush, who replaced him in the sixth with the bases loaded and one out. Furbush struck out Adam Lind and retired Colby Rasmus on a nice play by shortstop Brad Miller on a slow roller.
Yoervis Medina followed with 12 / 3 scoreless innings, and he in turn got help from Oliver Perez, who induced a ground out from Rasmus with two runners in scoring position to end the eighth.
Danny Farquhar finished it out in the ninth for his third save since becoming the de facto closer after Tom Wilhelmsen was pulled from the job.
“It was unbelievable,’’ Farquhar said. “Every single one of us who got in today really stepped up, starting with Maurer. Man, he battled. Maybe he didn’t have his best stuff, but he left those runners on base and didn’t give up a run.”
Farquhar gave up a two-out single to Josh Thole to end his streak of consecutive batters retired at 21, tied for fourth-longest in club history. But facing the potential tying run, Farquhar struck out tough Jose Reyes to end it.
“I love this role,’’ Farquhar said of his recent ninth-inning stints. “It’s a lot of fun. The fans are in it, the crowds are loud, the music’s loud. It’s an exciting part of the game.”
Harang, meanwhile, had his second straight rocky outing. Coming off a start in which he gave up seven runs in five innings in a loss to Baltimore, he was touched for seven in two-plus innings in this one. His downfall began when he walked three batters in Toronto’s five-run second after being handed a 2-0 lead by the Mariners.
“We got the two runs, and he knows more than anybody to go out and walk three guys kind of puts us in a bind,’’ Thompson said. “Hey, it wasn’t his day, but the bullpen picked him up.”
Asked if Harang, whose earned-run average rose to 5.79, would remain in the rotation, Thompson said: “I can’t answer that right now. As far as I’m concerned, yeah, he’s in the rotation. He did have a couple of bad outings. He’ll get in the bullpen and work on some things. He’s not someone that normally walks guys. Hopefully, he’ll get back in the zone more consistently.”
Harang said he felt fine physically, and plans to huddle with pitching coach Carl Willis.
“Mechanically, I’ve been feeling off,’’ he said. “Hopefully, it’s just something little and I get things figured out and get back on the right track.”
The Mariners, who had lost nine of their previous 13, are hoping for the same thing.
“We’ve been grinding, playing teams tough, playing really good teams really tough,’’ Harang said. “That’s how things have to work. You battle through tough times and hopefully get through those tough spots and start swinging well, and then go on a good run.”