Mariners 2, Blue Jays 1

Sunday, July 1st 2007, 9:30 pm
By: News On 6

SEATTLE (AP) _ Jose Guillen had tears in his eyes, Raul Ibanez said the whole team was in shock and Ichiro Suzuki had no idea why his manager quit.

Mike Hargrove stunned his Seattle Mariners on Sunday, resigning just hours before they rallied past the Toronto Blue Jays 2-1 in his finale to extend their winning streak to eight games.

``Definitely a weird day. Strange. Sad,'' Ibanez said. ``I've never been through something like that.''

Guillen hit a tying homer in the eighth inning and a game-ending single off third baseman Troy Glaus' glove in the ninth for the Mariners, who got another strong outing from a rejuvenated Jeff Weaver.

But afterward, the Mariners were still coming to grips with Hargrove's departure. He became the first major league manager since at least 1900 to depart while on a winning streak of more than seven games, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

``I really love him,'' Guillen said.

A player who has had several run-ins with managers throughout his career getting gooey over his latest one? Just another bizarre development befitting a bizarre day.

The manager of baseball's hottest team quit in the middle of its best streak in four years, immediately after Seattle completed its first home sweep of Toronto since 1979.

Weaver allowed only Frank Thomas' 501st career home run and six other hits in eight innings, his latest leap away from an 0-6 start.

``I won the first game I managed in and the last one,'' a red-eyed Hargrove said. ``Pretty good bookends.''

Hargrove abruptly resigned two hours before the first pitch. By the end of the day, the Mariners (45-33) were 12 games over .500 for the first time since the end of 2003.

That was their last winning season _ and their last one without Hargrove, who said he was leaving the game he's played, coached or managed since 1972 because he no longer is able to match the commitment he has been asking of players for the last 15 1/2 seasons as a major league manager.

``It's a shock, a surprise to everybody,'' Toronto manager John Gibbons said. ``Grover is one of the class acts in baseball, one of the good guys. ... It's sad.''

When it ended, Hargrove gave his wife of 37 years, Sharon, his usual subtle signal, pumping his right arm toward the stands for the last time to celebrate his 1,188th and apparently final managerial win. Each of the Mariners then hugged Hargrove in front of their dugout before the 57-year-old tipped his cap to the cheering fans _ many of whom wanted him fired during a six-game losing streak back in April.

The Mariners thought Hargrove was gathering them Sunday morning in the clubhouse to announce who had made the All-Star team. But after Hargrove told the players Suzuki and J.J. Putz were All-Stars, he announced he was giving his job to John McLaren, his bench coach, beginning with Monday's game at Kansas City.

``It was just a shock to every person in the room,'' Putz said. ``I think he realized that everyone didn't want him to leave.''

The players were left to respect Hargrove's decision, if not understand it. Why would he stay on through six consecutive losing seasons in Baltimore and Seattle only to leave in the middle of the Mariners' stunning turnaround?

``To see a manager step out like this, you kind of still don't understand what's going on,'' Guillen said.

Suzuki acknowledged he didn't get along with Hargrove when the manager arrived in 2004, but said their relationship improved.

``We can all continue to speculate about things like that, but it won't take us anywhere,'' Suzuki said through a translator. ``Since then, I've honestly expressed my feelings to him and he's listened to them honorably and gentlemanly like.''

Guillen's big day ruined another impressive start for Toronto's Shaun Marcum, who began his season in the bullpen. Marcum threw 6 2-3 shutout innings, his fourth start without allowing a run this season. He walked two, struck out two and appeared poised for his second 1-0 win in three weeks after Scott Downs retired Ibanez with the potential tying run on in the seventh.

But when Casey Janssen entered in the eighth, Guillen hit his first pitch _ waist-high at 93 mph _ into the third row of the right-field bleachers to tie the game.

Jeremy Accardo (1-3) took the loss. Putz pitched a scoreless ninth for the win.

Weaver matched Marcum's zeros for five innings while again featuring changeups in his third consecutive strong start. But when Weaver threw yet another, 79 mph floater to begin the seventh, Thomas sent it into the back of Toronto's bullpen far beyond left field.

Weaver allowed seven hits in eight innings, struck out three and issued one intentional walk while lowering his ERA to 6.75. It was at 14.32 to begin June, when he returned from a month on the disabled list. In five starts since that stint, Weaver is 2-0 with a 1.65 ERA.

``I'm pitching like I should be pitching,'' Weaver said. ``But it's five starts. We've got a long haul.''

Suddenly, that haul will be without Hargrove.

``I'll miss the camaraderie, the clubhouse humor,'' Hargrove said. ``I won't miss the 3-2 losses in the ninth, but I will miss the 2-1 wins.''

Notes: Toronto placed RHP A.J. Burnett on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 28 with a right shoulder strain. ... Blue Jays OF Alex Rios made the All-Star team one summer after he was selected but was unable to play because of a staph infection. Rios, who has 17 home runs, fouled a pitch off his right leg in the eighth but stayed in the game after a trainer checked him out. ... Suzuki made his seventh consecutive All-Star team.