Baseball is truly a funny game.
Josh Donaldson was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays on November 28th, 2014, from the Oakland Athletics. Today, facing his former team, Donaldson didn’t just knock on the door and say hello. He knocked the door down, walked in, cracked open a beer and put his feet on the table. This is Donaldson’s world, and we’re just living in it.
Or, at least, it feels like that. In Toronto’s 7-5 win against the Oakland Athletics, Donaldson hit a two-run home run in the top of the tenth to avoid the sweep. Similar to Tuesday’s game, Wednesday’s battle, set in the early afternoon, was ugly. But Toronto got the job done.
The game was tied 4-4 after the fifth inning, and the score didn’t change through the rest of the scheduled innings. A combination of Danny Barnes, Joe Smith and Ryan Tepera kept the homer-friendly Oakland lineup off base for the next four innings of the game, striking out seven and retiring 13 straight.
The top of the 10th is when the fun arrived. Kevin Pillar took ball five to the back and Donaldson was at the plate. Pitch one. Ball. Pitch two. Foul. Pitch three. Strike. Pitch four. Contact. Fly ball. Shallow. Carrying. Carrying. Gone. “I’m the king of the [redacted] jungle.”
Justin Smoak, two outs later, followed suit in drilling a home run to right centre field, his second of the game and 17th on the season.
Donaldson wouldn’t have had a chance to show his skill if the game had been played differently. The Blue Jays were up 4-1 by the third inning, and seemed prepared to coast to a victory. Francisco Liriano was on the mound, and despite giving up two doubles in the first inning, he seemed strong.
An error in the third gave the Athletics another run. The error extended the inning forcing Liriano to throw an additional six pitches. It was still 4-2, with the lead comfortably in Toronto’s hands.
No lead is comfortable. Especially just one day after the Houston Astros, the best team in major league baseball — maybe ever — relinquished a 7-1 lead, nothing is secure. A solo home run in the fourth made it 4-3, and a triple combined with a sac fly tied the game in the fifth.
Both team’s bullpen proceeded to shut down the opposition — batter after batter, inning after inning — the game progressed fast. Things worked like clockwork for both teams until, of course, the 10th.
After Donaldson gave the Blue Jays the lead, with help from Smoak, the win was in the hands of Roberto Osuna. Osuna’s “don’t panic” motto was called into question, as Oakland scored one, but a strikeout of Jed Lowrie secured the win, Toronto’s first of the road trip. 29-31. Two games below .500.
Follow Mark on Twitter: @MarkColley.