With a seven-game road trip ready to begin on Monday in Florida, the Toronto Blue Jays find themselves in desperate need of an offensive jolt as they prepare to close out a three-game set versus the Seattle Mariners at Rogers Centre on Sunday.
Already 10 1/2 games out of contention in the American League East, the Jays have proven to be one of the weakest teams in the majors as they deal with a four-game slide following their 8-1 loss to the Mariners on Saturday. The team generated just six hits, two by Edwin Encarnacion, while Rajai Davis scored the only run of the outing for the club in the seventh inning.
R.A. Dickey continued to struggle with his new squad, giving up seven runs on six hits, three of which were home runs, in six innings of work. With the setback the Jays have now bowed in eight of the last nine contests.
Picking up the victory for Seattle, the team's third in a row and the sixth in seven tries, was Hisashi Iwakuma, who scattered five hits and three walks, fanning five over seven innings.
Offensively, Michael Saunders knocked in three as he belted two home runs and a double in five at-bats. Also going deep for the visitors was Dustin Ackley, who delivered a grand slam in the fourth inning, easily offsetting his two strikeouts.
"That's an awesome feeling," Ackley said. "Hitting a home run in general is a great feeling, but to have three guys on base and to put your team up ... it was pretty important for us."
Gearing up for his first appearance in the month of May, Joe Saunders takes the ball for the Mariners this afternoon. The left-hander has two wins in six opportunities thus far in 2013, posting a victory in his most recent outing on Monday versus Baltimore, one of the teams he pitched for last season.
Against the Orioles, Saunders threw a complete game, giving up just two runs on four hits and a walk, striking out two in a 6-2 triumph.
When it comes to facing Toronto, Saunders has a career mark of 3-5 with a 3.47 ERA.
Countering for the Jays will be Brandon Morrow as he seeks his first win of the campaign. While Morrow has yet to notch a triumph of his own, Toronto has won both of his last outings, including a 9-7 final over Boston at home earlier in the week.
Morrow made it through just five innings at home versus the Red Sox, permitting three runs on six hits -- two home runs -- and three walks, striking out seven.
The right-hander has a 3-1 record with a 3.04 ERA in four all-time appearances against Seattle.
Toronto, which has claimed only one of the last eight meetings against the Mariners, is the weakest hitting team in the AL at the moment, batting a collective .225. It also doesn't help that the club is second-to-last in the majors in team ERA with a mark of 4.74 through 21 outings.