The Blue Jays took to the field in Oakland today faced with the daunting task of avoiding a sweep at the hands of Rich Hill, one of the few bright spots in the Athletics’ organization in 2016 (and a possible trade target for the Jays). The Jays got a break early when Hill, who had been plagued by a blister on his pitching hand and who had already missed some time, had to exit the game after just five pitches due to said blister. His replacement, Andrew Triggs, got off to a shaky start, giving up back-to-back singles to Josh Donaldson and Edwin Encarnacion, the latter of which scored Donaldson from first due to an error on the play. Triggs would then hit Russell Martin with a pitch, but managed to get out of the inning relatively unscathed.
The two teams would trade outs until the top of the fourth inning, when Russell Martin led off with a double and was driven home by a two-run shot off the bat of Troy Tulowitzki to give the Jays a 3-0 lead. The A’s got their first two hits off Happ in the bottom of the inning but failed to capitalize. Things began to unravel for the Jays in the fifth, when Happ was hit by a liner on the left forearm. Despite a cut and contusion, he remained in the game, but was pulled in the sixth after giving up a lead-off home run to Marcus Semien followed by a single and a walk. Enter Jesse Chavez, who promptly surrendered a two-run double to Yonder Alonso to tie the game at three runs apiece.
After back-to-back singles by Kevin Pillar and Justin Smoak to lead off the seventh, the Jays appeared to be mounting a rally but failed to bring home a run. The game would remain tied until the top of the ninth, when with two on and two out, MVP Josh Donaldson stuck it to his former team with a two-run double. Roberto Osuna closed out the game, avoiding the sweep.
Top Play of the Game by WPA
Canadian John Axford came in to pitch the top of the ninth and quickly got one out on a Kevin Pillar ground ball. The Jays would rally, however, with back-to-back singles by Justin Smoak and Junior Lake to bring up the top of the order (Smoak was lifted for pinch runner Andy Burns). After Devon Travis struck out, Josh Donaldson – facing the team that traded him to the Jays – delivered the fatal blow, a two-run double to give the Jays a 5-3 lead and the top play of the game by WPA (.449).
Bottom Play of the Game by WPA
Down 3-0 in the bottom of the sixth, the Athletics rallied to tie the game on a solo blast by Marcus Semien followed by a Danny Valencia single and a walk to Khris Davis to set up a two-run double by Yonder Alonso. The Athletics, however, had the opportunity to take the lead when Jake Smolinski was hit by a pitch and Ryon Healy reached on an infield single to bring Matt McBride to the plate with two out. McBride popped up to first to end the inning, providing the bottom play of the game by WPA (-.103).
After an off-day Monday, the Jays roll into Chase Field to face the Arizona Diamondbacks in a two-game miniseries. Aaron Sanchez will look to earn his tenth win of the season against right-hander Zack Godley. A sweep would give the Jays a 3-2 road trip. Game time on Monday is 9:40pm ET.
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