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Jays Annihilate Defunct Franchise 12-1

MLB: Cincinnati Reds at Oakland Athletics Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

I don’t have a ton to say about the Blue Jays today except that that Kikuchi was great and everybody else did a good job. So let’s talk about the A’s. Their run differential is now -224, which a) would have been in the bottom three in any of the last five full seasons, after 80 games, and b) puts them on pace for -454, which would shatter the modern record of -349, by the 1932 Boston Red Sox (and whose owner was forced into selling the team that winter, I’m just saying). They’re also on pace for 41 wins, which would pass the 2003 Tigers for the worst record by a non-expansion team in the integration era (the original Mets did go 40-120 in 1962). It’s a slap in the face to the city of Oakland to have a storied franchise leave town with a deliberately garbage effort like this. The stadium in Vegas may not open for a couple more years, but already there is no major league baseball being played in Oakland.

Yusei Kikuchi was excellent today. He didn’t allow a baserunner until there was one out in the fourth (seconds after someone in the booth said the word “perfect”, you’d think professionals would know better). He shrugged it off, though, and struck out the next two batters.

The A’s did get on the board in the sixth. Tony Kemp lead off with a home run into the visitors’ bullpen, but again Kikuchi bounce back to retire the next three A’s.

Ultimately, he’d pitch seven innings of one run ball, issuing two walks and two hits and striking out eight. It was his longest and probably best outing for the Blue Jays, and arguably the second best of his five season MLB career (the best by far being his complete game shutout of the Jays back in August of 2019).

Trent Thornton (who is with the Jays right now, to my surprise) took over for the eighth. He gave up a leadoff single to Conner Capel, but got a fielder’s choice and a double play ball to efficiently exit the inning.

The game long over, Bowden Francis was asked to sweep up and turn off the lights. He issued a walk, but got a strikeout and a couple of pop outs to end it.

George Springer did his usual thing, welcoming Luis Medina to the Rogers Centre with a leadoff bomb to claim an early 1-0 lead. The homer was his 55th to lead off a ball game, passing Alfonso Soriano for sole possession of second place on that leaderboard (Rickey Henderson, with 82, is miles in front).

Whit Merrifield followed up with a walk, and Vladimir Guerrero jr brought him home on a line single to the gap that centre fielder Esteury Ruiz misplayed, allowing Merrifield to score from first and Guerrero to take second.

They added a third run in the second. Santiago Espinal and Kevin Kiermaier walked, and Tyler Heineman bunted for a single to load the bases with nobody out. Springer grounded into a double play, but it did allow Espinal to come home.

In the fourth, Matt Chapman took a two out walk, and a Cavan Biggio single and Espinal walk loaded them up. A Medina wild pitch allowed Chappy to score (making it 4-0), but Kevin Kiermaier struck out to prevent the Jays from really cracking it open.

Medina finally worked a clean inning in the fourth, working around a Springer walk and making a terrific stab to catch a Bo Bichette liner that was otherwise a hit. The fifth was similar, with a walk to Biggio but no more runs.

Ken Waldichuk took over in the sixth. Ruiz blew another read, misplaying a Kiermaier liner that probably should have been a single into a triple. Springer hit a deep sac fly, almost his second homer of the day, to stretch the lead back to four.

They got some insurance in the seventh, thanks in part to Oakland’s truly awful outfield defence. Bo got on with an infield single. Vlad liner a double off the base of the right field wall that Brent Rooker possibly could have gotten to or at least cut off with a decent route, and Espinal scored them on a ground rule double to centre facilitated by another questionable route by Ruiz. With that, they matched yesterday’s total of 7 runs.

There was an odd moment in the eighth. Tyler Heineman pulled up with what looked like a cramp after a foul tip, forcing Danny Jansen to step into a full count. He walked, went to second on a Springer single, third on a Merrified ground out, and scored on a Bichette single into left field. That was the end of the line for Waldichuk. Yacksel Rios was brought in to face Vlad, who grounded out but brought Springer in. Rios then walked Chapman and gave up a laser of a home run to Biggio, pushing the score to 12-1.

Jays of the Day: Kikuchi (0.222) and Vlad (0.100) had the number, but like yesterday it was a team effort. The only Jays in negative territory were Bichette and Biggio, both of whom had a couple of hits (including a homer for Biggio!) but struck too late, after the Jays win probability was effectively 100%.

Relocated (to the back of the plane): nobody

The bay area squads switch now, with the Giants coming to town for a three game set after tomorrow’s off day. Starters haven’t been announced yet, but we’ll get things rolling at 7:07pm ET on Tuesday night.