Blue Jays-Mariners Preview
By CHRIS ALTRUDA
(AP) -- Ricky Romero has done little to help his cause during an absolutely miserable July.
Then again, neither have his teammates.
The left-hander tries to avoid losing a career-worst seventh consecutive start Monday when the Toronto Blue Jays begin a 10-game road swing with the first of three contests against the Seattle Mariners.
To say Romero (8-7, 5.75 ERA) is struggling is an understatement. He has a 10.48 ERA during his losing streak, giving up 34 runs and 44 hits while walking 22 in 28 1-3 innings. He may have bottomed out Wednesday in a 16-0 loss to Oakland, leaving after allowing eight runs and walking six while recording just four outs.
"It's kind of tough to look my teammates in the eye right now," Romero said. "Tonight was just pathetic on my side, a horrible performance."
Though he put his team in a hole in his last start, Romero has not seen a run of support dating back to a July 2 loss to Kansas City. Romero has had two quality starts during his winless run, but manager John Farrell knows the struggles have weighed heavily on the southpaw.
"We have to work to get him right, there's no question about it," he told the team's official website. "We have talked a lot about what his frame of mind is, and yet we have to work to rebuild that to get him on track."
Romero is 1-1 with a 3.51 ERA in six lifetime starts against Seattle and allowed three runs in 6 2-3 innings versus the Mariners on April 27 in a 9-5, 10-inning loss. The last Blue Jay to lose seven consecutive starts was Josh Towers in 2006.
Despite Romero's struggles, the Blue Jays (51-50) are still in the thick of the AL wild-card race, 3 1/2 games out of the second spot. They were denied a sweep of their three-game series versus Detroit with Sunday's 4-1 loss, stranding eight runners and going 0 for 4 with runners in scoring position.
The Mariners (47-57) have become an also-ran in the highly competitive AL West, but they enter this game hoping to win a season-high fifth straight contest. Seattle capped a four-game sweep of Kansas City with a 7-6 victory Sunday after Munenori Kawasaki scored the go-ahead run on a throwing error in the eighth inning.
"We've been playing pretty well lately and scoring some runs and pitching has been great," said Kyle Seager, who has an AL-leading 36 RBIs with two out. "It's been great."
Seager, who went 3 for 4 on Sunday, is hitting just .186 at home.
Rookie Hisashi Iwakuma (1-2, 4.56) again seeks his first victory as a starter since cracking the rotation earlier this month. The right-hander overcame some control issues Wednesday against New York, issuing three walks but yielding only one run in five innings before leaving without a decision in Seattle's 5-2 loss.
Iwakuma has walked 10 in 21 innings as a starter and also has given up a homer in each of those four outings. He surrendered a grand slam to Edwin Encarnacion in a disastrous inning of relief in Toronto on April 28.
Closer Tom Wilhelmsen has converted all four of his save opportunities in helping the Mariners go 5-2 thus far on this 10-game homestand, but has allowed runs in the last two.
Updated July 29, 2012