My confession: I did not watch most of the game. I only joined in after the seventh, but the Blue Jays and the Athletics were nice enough to extend the match into extra innings. Good news is that I saw the good part of the game when the Blue Jays batters came up clutch against Athletics relievers, and when Blue Jays pitchers shut down the Athletics offense to secure the game and series victory.
The game did not start out very well, with the A's scoring two runs on fielding errors. In the third inning, the A's scored the first run of the game with Eric Sogard at first and Jed Lowrie at the plate. Lowrie lined a single to right field, and Jose Bautista inexplicably tries to throw Sogard out at third. Bautista's cannon of an arm was misaligned and the throw flew over everyone's head and hopped into the seats to score Sogard. R.A. Dickey didn't expect that throw to even happen so he was't backing up third base--but on replay it showed that the throw was so off the mark that it wouldn't have mattered anyway.
In the bottom of the fifth, Sogard popped-up to the centre of the diamond. Dickey, while shielding his eyes from the sun, and was backing off the mound to try to catch the ball, but then trips and falls. At the same time, Brett Lawrie, who was charging in from third, stumbles on Dickey and the pop-up fell safely onto the green infield grass. Two batters later, Brandon Moss popped up to shallow right field. Second baseman Maicer Izturis ran out, but had trouble with the sun, causing another pop-up to be dropped. With two outs, Sogard was running full steam from second, and scored easily to notch another unearned run on Dickey's line.
Speaking of the line, Dickey had a decent game, throwing 95 pitches over six innings, giving up six hits and a walk while striking out three. His defense was not good, making four errors in total.
The Blue Jays scored two runs in the top of the fourth against Bartolo Colon. The first came courtesy of three singles by Adam Lind, Colby Rasmus, and then Brett Lawrie to bring in Rasmus. Lawrie has been looking much better at the plate lately, perhaps all he really needed was time to get into a rhythm. After a Jose Reyes walk to load the bases, A's catcher Stephen Vogt missed Colon's first pitch to Izturis, allowing Rasmus to score from third when Colon wasn't able to run fast enough to beat Rasmus to home.
The game remained tied at 2-2 because of several solid outings by relievers. After Aaron Loup allowed a couple of runners to reach in the eighth, Steve Delabar came in to end the inning with two strikeouts. The All-Star reliever has now struck out five batters in a row. Since July 1, Delabar has faced 41 batters and have retired 18 of them via strikeouts. He has 72 strikeouts on the season, just six fewers than Bartolo Colon, putting him third amongst relievers. In the top of the ninth, Grant Balfour came in to and followed Delabar by striking out the side to keep the score tied.
Wisely, John Gibbons called on Casey Janssen to pitch the bottom of the ninth to prevent a loss rather than to wait for a potential save situation for his closer. Janssen made his manager look smart by getting the Athletics in three up, three down fashion, giving the top of the Jays' order a chance to do damage in the top of the tenth.
And damage they did. Bob Melvin called on the services of long reliever Jesse Chavez, who has actually been a lot better than the way Blue Jays fans remember him last year when he wore Toronto's uniform. Jose Reyes led off the inning with a single, bringing up Maicer Izturis. Izturis tried to put down the bunt several times to move Reyes into scoring position but failed. Good thing Vogt also failed, not being able to handle a Chavez changeup that ended up going all the way to the backstop. Izturis would foul off a bunt attempt then fly out to shallow centre. Perhaps this would remind Gibbons to not bat Izturis second, and to stop calling for bunts as it seems that no one on the team can actually do it well.
Jose Bautista then played hero by lining a cutter down the right field foul line, easily scoring Reyes. Thanks, Jesse, you owed the Jays a couple of wins from 2012. Having scored the go-ahead run, Melvin asked Chavez to intentionally walk Edwin Encarncaion and then replaced him with lefty Jerry Blevins to face Adam Lind. Gibbons countered with Mark DeRosa, who promptly walked. In 20 pinch hit plate appearances, DeRosa has walked seven times, as pointed out by @james_in_to. He is now batting.308/.550/.615 as a pinch hitter. Colby Rasmus, the one without winning baseball instincts, was next. He continued his red-hot July by squeaking a grounder past a drawn-in infield to score Bautista and Encarnacion to add two insurance runs.
Brett Cecil held the Jays' 5-2 lead with an easy 1-2-3 bottom of the 10th to record his first professional save. The win meant that the Blue Jays won their second series in a row, despite the ugly loss to the A's in game one. The series win against the 63-44 Athletics was the Blue Jays' first series win versus a team over .500 since they swept the Orioles at the end of their 11-game winning streak. Who would've thought that they'd pull off a win after making so many defensive miscues to start the game?
Jays of the Day! Colby Rasmus (+.254), Jose Reyes (+.211), Jose Bautista (+.191), Steve Delabar (+.163), Casey Janssen (+.121).
Tom, Carm, and the Blue Jays now head south to Los Angeles for a four-game series against the pretty horrific-looking Angels.
After the game, Sportsnet's Ben Nicholson-Smith tweeted out that Sergio Santos will be re-activated from the disabled list tomorrow, with no indication about the corresponding move. Melky Cabrera has not started in two games (although he did come into this one as a pinch hitter and struck out), and we all saw how bad he looked "running" in left field. There is a good chance that Cabrera would be placed on the 15-day DL to make room for Santos on the 25-man roster, and one of Michael Schwimer or Mickey Storey would be designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man. But, we won't know until tomorrow!
Thanks to all in the GameThread who helped fill me in on the game details!