TORONTO — The Blue Jays lost for the eighth time in nine games Saturday, and R.A. Dickey has no illusions about how poorly his team is playing. Dickey offered a blunt assessment of the Blue Jays’ on-field performance after allowing seven earned runs in a 8-1 loss to the Seattle Mariners at Rogers Centre Saturday.
“We’re somewhat of a dysfunctional team right now,” he said. “We’re kind of searching for a way to score runs, a way to pitch well. We’re doing a lot of things poorly, myself included. Again, I don’t know if it’s a long slump or we’re just playing like a bad team right now. And hopefully that will change. Certainly with the names in this locker room we’re capable of a lot more.”
“We’re going to have to grind through it because it’s a dark time right now,” Dickey continued. “But at the same time there’s some hope. We’re going to figure it out.”
Dickey made it clear that even as the team struggles on the field, Blue Jays players are getting along in the clubhouse instead of blaming one another for the club’s 10-21 start.
"On the field we aren't doing the things that good ballclubs need to do to win ballgames," he said. "And that's my definition of dysfunctional -- on the baseball field. As far as the clubhouse goes, we've got a group of great guys and the chemistry in here -- nobody's blaming other people. We're all trying to own what's ours to own but we're not very good right now and everybody knows it and that's no secret."
The Blue Jays lost for the fourth consecutive time Saturday, falling to 10-21 on the season. Their offensive struggles continued, as they failed to plate more than one run for the fourth consecutive game.
After the game manager John Gibbons said the team could use an emotional jolt such as a walk-off win or a couple of blowouts.
"We're all pretty beat up mentally right now but you've got to get through that," Gibbons said. "It's professional baseball. There's a lot of season left."
The crowd of 35,754 responded with boos and 'go Leafs go' chants throughout the afternoon. When the Blue Jays finally scored in the seventh inning, fans erupted with a loud mock cheer.
"I did hear them. It was hard not to," Dickey said. "You can't blame them. We've played well below our expectation. We're booing ourselves. It's tough. We're trying to hang onto the hope that we're too good of a ballclub for this to continue."
Dustin Ackley blew the game open in the fourth inning with a grand slam, and the Blue Jays were never close from that point on. Dickey had loaded the bases with a single and two walks before allowing the first slam of Ackley's career.
"The game of baseball is cruel," Gibbons said. "It is. It doesn't let you up ... only the strong survive. That's not just baseball that's life."
The Blue Jays lost track of how many outs they had in the top of the fifth inning. Dickey struck out Kendrys Morales for the third out of the inning, at which point catcher Henry Blanco threw the ball to third baseman Brett Lawrie instead of rolling the ball to the mound and returning to the dugout.
Dickey, who dealt with neck and back soreness earlier in the season, said he felt better physically than he had in the recent past.
"I'm taking that as a positive out of the day today," he said. "I felt much better."
Michael Saunders homered to right field to lead off the game and added a second solo home run in the fifth inning. It marked the fourth career multi-home run game for the Victoria, B.C., native.
Starter Hisashi Iwakuma pitched well for the Mariners, limiting the Blue Jays to one earned run in seven innings. The 32-year-old right-hander struck out five, allowing five hits and three walks.
The Houston Astros and Miami Marlins are the only MLB teams with fewer wins than the Blue Jays. Meanwhile, the Mariners improve to 15-17 with the win.
THE BATS: The Blue Jays ranked 13th among the 15 American League teams in runs scored entering the game, and their offensive struggles only continued Saturday.
The Blue Jays loaded the bases in the first inning with a walk from Lawrie and singles from Melky Cabrera and Edwin Encarnacion. Iwakuma escaped without allowing a run when he struck out Colby Rasmus and Rajai Davis.
The Blue Jays threatened again in the third inning when Jose Bautista and Encarnacion singled with two outs. One fly ball later, Iwakuma had retired Toronto's lineup again.
Toronto finally scored when Munenori Kawasaki drove in Rajai Davis with a sacrifice fly in the seventh inning. The run ended a 23-inning scoreless streak dating back to Lawrie's leadoff home run Thursday evening.
THE ARMS: Dickey had some trouble finding the strike zone early, but he limited Seattle to one run through the first three innings. He allowed runs in each of the next three innings, however, and ended up allowing seven earned runs on six hits in six innings while striking out five.
"I would have had to pitch very well for us to have a shot today and I didn't do that," he said.
The three home runs made the difference for the Mariners.
"That's one of the curses about throwing a pitch like I do," Dickey said. "If you leave it up sometimes it's going to get hit out of the park. Traditionally knuckleballers give up a few home runs every year and they just came at some crucial times today."
No qualified pitcher takes less time between pitches than Dickey, who needs just 17 seconds on average. Blue Jays left-hander Mark Buehrle ranks second in the pace of game category, averaging 17.9 seconds between pitches.
TRANSACTION WATCH: The Blue Jays announced that they outrighted Justin Germano to their triple-A Buffalo affiliate. They designated the right-hander for assignment earlier in the week to create room for Ricky Romero on the 25-man roster.
Germano appeared in one game for the Blue Jays, allowing two earned runs in two innings in a game against the Boston Red Sox. He had been starting in Buffalo before being added to the MLB roster.
WHERE THINGS STAND: The Mariners and Blue Jays conclude the three-game series Sunday afternoon at Rogers Centre, when right-hander Brandon Morrow faces left-hander Joe Saunders.
After Sunday's game the Blue Jays go on the road for four games against the Tampa Bay Rays and three games against the Red Sox.