Mariners-Blue Jays Preview
By SANTOSH VENKATARAMAN
(AP) -- The Toronto Blue Jays are 0-4 in games started by Henderson Alvarez and 11-6 when they use anyone else.
That poor record hasn't always been Alvarez's fault, and he enters off a strong performance ahead of Sunday's home outing against the Seattle Mariners.
Alvarez (0-2, 4.10 ERA) is searching for his first career win at home, where he's 0-2 with a 4.42 ERA in nine starts. His 2012 record isn't completely indicative of how he has pitched - opponents are hitting .216 against him.
The right-hander gave up two runs over seven innings Tuesday in a 2-1 loss at Baltimore, failing to strike out a batter for the first time in 14 career starts.
"He pitched exceptionally well," manager John Farrell said. "He did his job."
Alvarez's second career start came against Seattle (11-11) on Aug. 15 as he yielded four runs over five-plus innings and did not get a decision in a 6-5 road loss.
These teams have split the first two games of this weekend series, with the winner getting a grand slam and five RBIs from a player each time. Canadian native Michael Saunders drove in a career-high five runs and hit his slam in the 10th inning in Friday's 9-5 victory for Seattle.
Toronto (11-10) responded with a 7-0 victory Saturday as former Seattle starter Brandon Morrow pitched six innings and Edwin Encarnacion hit a grand slam in the eighth while recording the third five-RBI effort of his career.
The Mariners had their season-high four-game win streak snapped Saturday. Jesus Montero went 0 for 3 after he went 7 for 19 with four RBIs during the run.
Saunders was also held in check with a double in four at-bats after he went 6 for 16 with nine RBIs over the previous four games.
Seattle's Jason Vargas (3-1, 3.45) seeks to win three straight starts for the first time since Aug, 3-14, 2010. He limited Detroit to four runs over six innings in Tuesday's 7-4 road victory.
The Mariners lost all three games started by the left-hander against the Blue Jays last season as he went 0-2 with a 9.22 ERA. Encarnacion went 3 for 6 with two doubles against him in those games.
Ichiro Suzuki is 2 for 9 in this series, and the No. 3 hitter hasn't driven in a run in his last seven games. Toronto is the only AL opponent he has yet to homer against now in 94 games.
Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista continues to struggle with a .187 average and three homers. He homered eight times in his first 21 games in 2011 while finishing with 43.
The Mariners have lost nine of 11 at Rogers Centre and 13 of 19 overall against the Blue Jays.
Updated April 28, 2012