Trivia time: Which major league baseball player has hit the most home runs since the start of the 2018 season?
If you guessed Mike Trout, Bryce Harper or Aaron Judge, you’re not within 10 of the answer.
Surprisingly, it’s Eugenio Suarez, with 144.
But he’d never hit a walk-off homer until his three-run shot in the 11th inning Friday night to give the Seattle Mariners a 5-2 victory against the Toronto Blue Jays.
The teams are scheduled to meet again Saturday night in Seattle.
The Mariners (43-42) have won a season-high six games in a row and 14 of their past 17 to move a game above .500 for the first time since they were 12-11 on May 2.
Seattle also closed within two games of the suddenly struggling Blue Jays in the race for the American League’s third and final wild card.
“It’s a different part of our team picking us up every night,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “A few weeks ago, everybody was ready to run us out of town, but baseball is a long, long season and you’ve got to keep grinding through it, and our guys have.”
The Blue Jays have lost seven of their past eight games and have scored more than three runs just once in that span.
“Believe me, we got plenty of baseball left,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said. “I’m sure this lineup is going to get hot again and we’re going to score runs.”
The Blue Jays had their chances, as they left 13 runners on base and went 2-for-20 with runners in scoring position. They failed to score in extra innings against former teammate Ryan Borucki, despite getting a runner at second base to start both innings.
“I was just in a different world, I felt like. And it was just good to really step up,” Borucki said. “I was telling guys I’ve never felt like this in my life, just the joy of just being able to do what I did today.”
Suarez’s homer came after the Blue Jays intentionally walked Carlos Santana to get to him. Suarez made them pay with a towering shot down the left-field line off former teammate Sergio Romo, who was released by the Mariners last month.
“That was exciting,” Suarez said. “That was very special.”
The Mariners have won the first two contests of the four-game series.
Toronto right-hander Alek Manoah (9-3, 2.33 ERA) will try to bounce back from one of his worst outings of the season Saturday. He allowed a career-high-tying four earned runs in 5 2/3 innings of a loss at Oakland on Monday.
Lefty Robbie Ray (7-6, 3.62), who won the AL’s Cy Young Award last season with Toronto before leaving as a free agent in the offseason, is set to start for the Mariners. Ray is 4-1 with an 0.80 ERA and 40 strikeouts in 33 2/3 innings over his past five starts.
Manoah will be facing Seattle for the first time; Ray is 1-1 with a 4.50 ERA in two career starts against Toronto.
–Field Level Media