8/7/2013 10:44 P.M. ET
Blue Jays' goal is to get back to .500
By Josh Liebeskind / Special to MLB.com
SEATTLE -- The Blue Jays have a simple goal for the remainder of the season.
"We got to get back to .500," manager John Gibbons said before Wednesday's 9-7 loss to the Mariners. "We want to get there. I think that's important. It's really come to a point, you just win as many games as you can. Win the day and see what happens."
Toronto entered Wednesday on a three-game winning streak, its longest since putting together 11 straight victories June 11-23. Since then, the Blue Jays (53-61) have played sub-.500 baseball.
"We're playing pretty good right now," Gibbons said after Tuesday's win in Seattle. "We had the comeback win in Anaheim, and then beat two of the better ones in baseball, [Hisashi] Iwakuma last night and [Felix Hernandez] tonight. It's been an up-and-down season. We go out there every day and try to play a good game. When we do, we usually get pretty results."
Johnson to stay in Blue Jays' rotation
SEATTLE -- Josh Johnson will stay in the Blue Jays' rotation after throwing five scoreless innings in Tuesday's 7-2 win over the Mariners. The veteran right-hander, who won just his second game of what has been a disappointing season, is being evaluated on a start-by-start basis.
Tuesday brought a lot of firsts for Johnson -- his first win since June 23, his first road win of the season, the first time he did not allow a run since June 17, and the first time he did not allow a home run since July 9. The results were mostly due to a simple mechanical fix.
"I was staying on top of the baseball," Johnson said. "Once you stay on top of the baseball, you can do a lot of things."
"He's moving the ball well, locating his fastball," said Josh Thole, who was behind the plate on Tuesday. "We were pretty much able to throw any pitch when we wanted."
Toronto manager John Gibbons said he liked what he saw from the battery of Johnson and Thole, and will keep it together the next time through the rotation. Thole normally catches knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, and occasionally spells regular backstop J.P. Arencibia. Gibbons, though, wasn't ready to commit to Thole being Johnson's personal catcher.
Thole doesn't give the Blue Jays the best offensive weapon when he's in the lineup, as he entered Wednesday with an .098 batting average and only one extra base hit. But he went 2-for-5 with a two-run double and a run in Wednesday's 9-7 loss to the Mariners to up his average to .121. He got his third straight start with Arencibia a late scratch because of a sore left knee.
Gibbons isn't too worried about Thole's stats.
"In all fairness to him, he gives you a good at-bat and he's had some tough luck this year," Gibbons said. "He sure as heck is swinging it better than the numbers indicate. It's tough in that role to string anything together.
"I think he's definitely doing a good job for what he's been called on to do."
Arencibia undergoes MRI on sore knee
SEATTLE -- Blue Jays catcher J.P. Arencibia was a late scratch to Wednesday's lineup due to soreness in his right knee. Arencibia underwent an MRI and more will be known on Thursday.
The decision to remove Arencibia from the lineup came about 20 minutes before the game, when a lingering knee issue was aggravated as he warmed up starter J.A. Happ in the bullpen.
"It's stuff that we deal with the whole year," Arencibia said. "It was just there a little bit more than usual. I warmed up today through everything possible, just didn't feel like I could really go."
Josh Thole started in Arencibia's place and went 2-for-5 with a two-run double.
Rested Blue Jays' bullpen picking up slack
SEATTLE -- Toronto manager John Gibbons did not have to lean heavily on Tuesday's starter Josh Johnson because of a rested bullpen. Instead of pushing Johnson an extra inning, Gibbons went to the bullpen for the final four frames to close out the win.
The Blue Jays have received quality innings from their starters the past few days. But when a starter has struggled, relievers have been able to eat up a chunk of innings, like Brad Lincoln did on Saturday when he worked the final three innings against the Angels. Thursday's off-day will also help keep the bullpen rested.
Even though the bullpen lost All-Star Steve Delabar when he was placed on the disabled list on Sunday due to shoulder inflammation, Sergio Santos' return from the 60-day disabled list last Thursday has been a welcome addition.
"He's looked good these two outings he's had," Gibbons said of Santos, who's allowed one run in 3 1/3 innings since his return. "Two innings the other day in Anaheim and then yesterday. He's throwing strikes and that's the key for him. He feels good."
In Wednesday's 9-7 loss to the Mariners, Aaron Loup was tagged with the loss after allowing a two-run homer to Humberto Quintero to break a 7-7 tie. Lincoln followed with 1 1/3 scoreless innings despite walking three, and veteran Darren Oliver allowed only one hit in 1 2/3 innings.
• Delabar was placed on the disabled list on Sunday with right shoulder inflammation. The Blue Jays don't think it will be a lingering issue.
"We don't think it's a big deal," Gibbons said.
• The Blue Jays wrapped up a 10-game road trip on Wednesday, on which they finished 5-5, winning two of the three series.
Josh Liebeskind is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.