Ryan, Jays fall to Mariners in finale
Closer allows go-ahead run; Marcum super, takes no-decision
TORONTO -- It was a rare sight on Wednesday afternoon in the ninth inning of the Blue Jays' game against the Mariners, as Toronto closer B.J. Ryan was ejected from the contest by the home-plate umpire after expressing his frustration in the form of yelling.
Seconds later, Jays manager John Gibbons ran onto the field to argue with the umpire and ended up getting ejected as well.
The frustration that was displayed at Rogers Centre reached its boiling point just after Ryan had allowed the Mariners to score the go-ahead run in their 2-1 victory over the Jays.
In the Blue Jays (34-34) clubhouse following the game, it became clear that Toronto was upset about the strike zone of home-plate umpire Andy Fletcher.
"I thought there were a couple of borderline pitches," said a dejected Gibbons. "Apparently B.J. did, too. Who knows? It's the heat of the competition. We're in tight ballgames. That's a good thing."
Ryan (1-3) came into the game in the ninth inning with the score tied at 1. However, he could not seem to find the strike zone, walking two batters and then allowing an RBI single to Raul Ibanez that handed the Mariners (24-42) a 2-1 lead.
After the Ibanez single, Ryan verbally expressed his anger and was ejected for the outburst.
Jays catcher Rod Barajas, who was behind the plate, tried to describe the situation.
"The way that game turned around in the ninth, it was frustrating to all of us," Barajas said. "And B.J. is outstanding. He's a huge competitor and he showed his emotions and said what he felt. It's unfortunate, but it happens.
"For me, it seemed like he was yelling at himself. I didn't see him look at the umpire once, or make any reference to the umpire. He was just blowing off some steam and unfortunately, the umpire thought everything was directed at him."
In the Toronto clubhouse after the game, Ryan sat staring at his locker, while Jays pitching coach Brad Arnsberg spoke to him. Ryan did not speak to reporters.
June has not been kind to Ryan so far. Over the pitcher's five appearances this month, he is 0-3 with two blown saves and an ERA of 13.50. In just four innings of work, he has walked five batters and allowed seven hits.
Ryan's recent struggles have also caused some to question his health. He underwent Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery on his left arm on May 10, 2007, and rejoined Toronto's bullpen on April 13. Over the season's first two months, Ryan was a perfect 12-for -12 in save opportunities with a 0.53 ERA.
However, the Ryan that has taken the mound over the last 11 days has rarely seemed like the same pitcher.
"I think he's fine," said Barajas. "I think he's made some tough pitches. The thing that always come back to bite you is the walks. I'm not saying he's not 100 percent, but maybe his consistency is not there as much as it was there before.
"But he's been doing an awesome job. For him to overcome what he's overcome and pitch the way he has this year, it's amazing."
Ryan aside, the Toronto hitters couldn't do much against Seattle starter Felix Hernandez, who delivered a dominating performance.
Hernandez (5-5) stifled the Jays over eight innings, allowing one unearned run on four hits, striking out eight and walking one.
For the majority of the game, Jays starter Shaun Marcum was heavily involved in a pitchers' duel with Hernandez.
Hernandez blinked first in the game, as the Jays scored in the fourth inning, when Joe Inglett laced a pitch from the Seattle right-hander down the first-base line. Mariners right fielder Jeremy Reed booted the ball in the corner, allowing Inglett to advance to third on the error. Jays designated hitter Matt Stairs cashed in Inglett with a groundout to second base.
However, that was the only damage the Jays could do against Hernandez.
Toronto threatened in the sixth inning, putting runners on second and third with one out. But Hernandez bore down to escape the jam by striking out Vernon Wells and inducing a groundout from Stairs.
"We had a couple of chances," said Jays first baseman Lyle Overbay, "but they were slim chances because Felix had his game going on. We knew it was going to be one of those [games where] a mistake is going to be one pitch and, unfortunately, it went against us."
Lost in the end result was the solid outing Marcum. The right-hander, who earned a no-desicion, allowed one run on seven hits over seven innings. He struck out nine and walked two.
He allowed his only run in the seventh inning, when Yuniesky Betancourt hit a triple into the right-center-field gap that scored Richie Sexson from first and tied the game at 1.
"It was a pitcher's day, all the way, both sides," Gibbons said. "Both sides were dominating on the mound."
David Singh is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.