Jays 6 at A’s 5 (10 innings)
It took a little extra labour to pull it out on Labour Day, but the bats came to life just in time fo for the Blue Jays to barely hold on to a much needed win.
They started the game being stymied by the upper 90s heat and effective breaking stuff of Luis Medina, with Vladimir Guerrero the only one to reach over the first four innings other than Spencer Horwitz being slightly clipped and then erased on a double play.
Medina finally put himself in a jam to start the 5th, walking Alejandro Kirk and Daulton Varsho to start the inning, then Ernie Clement singled to load the bases with none out. Kevin Kiermaier broke the goose egg, but in the most costly manner with a double play. Fortunately, George Springer picked him up with a RBI double, and then Cavan Biggio got a ball just over and through the infield to in turn bring him home for the 3-0 lead.
For his part, Jose Berrios had a shaky first inning, with the first two runners reaching. At which point he settled into dominant form, with excellent command of his pitches. That enabled him to set down the next 14 runners in order, until with two out in the 5th a heretofore-unknown-to-me guy names Lawrence Butler smashed a solo home run off him.
Given hoy how sharp he looked, it seemed like it would be a blip, but in the 6th Zach Gelof got him for one out single. After stealing second, the Jays executed a nice pick-off, which almost immediately crucial as Ryan Noda smashed another bomb to make to 3-2 (instead of tying it).
That was the end for Berrios, a little curious given he was only at 84 pitches and the bullpen pretty depleted. And it immediately backfired on John Schneider as Yimi Garcia hung a curve to the second batter for the third absolute bomb of the afternoon and the game was tied.
Unfortunately, the bats were back asleep, and the Jays went in order in three of the last four innings, the 8th being their lone opportunity with two on and two out before Lucas Erceg blew away Whit Merrifield.
The jays barely managed to hold Oakland at bay, with a leadoff single in the 8th stranded after being bunted to second, advancing to third on a ground ball before Biggio made a very nice snag and throw at third to end the inning. Another leadoff single followed off Geneiss Cabrera in the 9th, this time Jordan Romano stranding the runner at third after a couple stolen bases.
After twice slumbering for four inning stretches, the bats once again roused. Santiago Espinal led off the inning doubling home the Manfred Man, scoring in turn a batter later on another Biggio RBI single. After Vladdy was effectivedly pitched around and walked, Spencer Horwitz bashed a ball to the left-centre gap to plate both runs for a momentary 7-3 lead before the ball was ruled lodged under the wall and a RBI double. So Vladdy went back to third where he was stranded.
With a big cushion, Romano started the 10th by hanging a slider to this Butler guy, who bashed it over the wall for a second home run and a sudden one run game. After a quick strikeout, the tying run reached via a single, but Romano got the GIDP to end it.
Jays of the Day: Espinal (+.351 WPA), Springer (+.169). Vlad (+.103), Berrios (+.113). Biggio gets one as well despite the +.046 mark. And Romano had the number (.160) for the result if not the process.
: Merrifield (-.225), Garcia (-.161), Kiermaier (-.103)
Tomorrow, the series continues with the only nightcap of the series at 9:40 eastern, with Chris Bassitt scheduled against LHP Ken Waldichuk. With the state of the bullpen, let’s hope Bassitt has another deep start in him.