The Toronto Blue Jays Teoscar Hernandez connects for an RBI single in the first inning against Oakland A’s starter Chris Bassitt at the Oakland Coliseum on Wed May 5, 2021 (AP News photo)
Toronto 9 -10 – 0
Oakland 4 – 7 – 0
By Lewis Rubman
May 5, 2021
OAKLAND–This morning, the Blue Jays announced that on June 1 they will fly away home. The A’s opponents du jour, who have been playing their home games in their spring training facilities in Dundin, FL, will not be returning all the way to Canada but to neighboring Buffalo.
The upgrade of Salhen Field, the home park of their Triple AAA affiliate in upstate New York, is expected to have been completed by then. Ironically, the first team to visit the Jays in their northern home away from home will be the Miami Marlins. Just before game time, Toronto also announced that they had put George Springer on the IL and promoted Jonathan Davis.
The A’s also announced a move, one on a much lower scale. Aramis García, the catcher acquired along with Elvis Andrus in the Khris Davis deal, has been placed on the Injured List with viral enteritis. He was replaced by fellow backstop Austin Allen, who had been on the taxi squad and batted ninth tonight and catching.
He threw out Randal Grichuk trying to steal second in the top of the sixth, ending the inning. He ended the top of the seventh as well, this time with a nifty 2-3 put out of Joe Panik on a dribbler in front of the plate.
Seven year veteran Robbie Ray (1-1, 2.78) started for the Blue Jays. His best pitch is his fastball, which has been averaging 95 mph this season. Reasonably enough, it’s his most frequent offering, followed, in descending order, by the slider, curve, and occasional change up.
Although at game time he owned a mediocre lifetime record of 50-52, 4.22, he was tied for third place among pitchers with more than 100 innings of MLB experience for strike outs per nine innings at 11.03. Tonight was the first time he faced the A’s.
Oakland entrusted its fortunes to Chris Bassitt (2-2, 3.93). Those figures in parenthesis aren’t reassuring, but behind them are reasons to give the Athletics and their fans some confidence. Bassitt’s two loses were in his first two starts, against the Astros and Dodgers, in that order.
After his second defeat, his record stood at 0-2, 5.56 with an opponents’ batting average of .289. Between then and game time, it was 2-0, 3.13, and .221. He was 0-1, 5.25 lifetime in his meager two starts against Toronto. He pitched tonight on five days’ rest.
Toronto jumped all over him in the first inning, but the damage they inflicted on Oakland wasn’t insurmountable. That would come later.
After Marcus Semien went down swinging to open the game, Bo Bichette rapped a single to left and moved on to second when Vladimir Guerrero, Jr., sent a line drive up the middle into center for another base hit. Teoscar Hernández banged a single to right, driving Bichette across home for Toronto’s first tally. Guerrero scored their second on Randal Grichuk’s single to center. Then Bassitt settled down to get the two outs he needed to get out of the inning.
Ramón Laureano reduced the gap by blasting one of Ray’s 95 mph fast balls an estimated 395 feet, leaving the park over the State Farm sign in right center, with one out in the home first. That made it seven home runs and 15 RBI for the A’s centerfielder.
Matt Chapman, who seems well on the way to putting his hitting woes behind him, closed the gap completely in the bottom of the fourth. His 396 foot smash to left came on an 87 mph slider Ray threw on a 1-2 count . The brought his totals to five dingers and fourteen runs driven in. Not bad for a guy who’d just crawled over the Mendoza line.
The A’s pulled ahead in their half of the sixth. Laureano doubled to deep left center to lead off. He moved up 90 feet on Olson’s ground out to short into the shift and scored on DH Sean Murphy’s pop fly single to center over a drawn in infield. Jed Lowrie’s fly that Grichuk corralled at the right center wall looked like it might widen the margin, but, of course, it didn’t.
That was the last out that Ray would record. In his six innings on the mound, he threw 95 pitches, 68 for strikes. The three runs he yielded were earned and came on six hits, two of which went the distance. He didn’t walk anybody and, running true to form, struck out nine.. Jordan Romano, his replacement, amused the crowd with his habit of squatting between each pitch, but still managed to set down the bottom of the Athletics’ order in order.
Bob Melvin also called on a reliever, Lou Trivino, to open the next inning. Bassitt left after throwing 90 pitches (63 strikes) over seven innings. The two earned runs he allowed in the first were the only ones scord against hm. Four of the six hits gave up also came in the initial frame. Like Ray, he gave up no free transportation. He struck out seven Blue Jays.
Lou Trivino, however, wasn’t as effective and Romano. He walked the number nine hitter, McGwire, who promptly was replaced by the newly arrived pinch runner Jonathan Davis, and the wheels came off. Semien singled Davis to second.
Bichette forced Semien out at second but beat Andrus’s relay to first, putting runners on the corners with one out. Trivino unleached a wild pitch to Guerrero, allowing Davis to score the tying run and Bichette to take second. He then stole third.
Trivino gave an intentional pass to Junior. Hernández singled to left, scoring Bichette and moving Junior to second. Grichuk´s single to left plated Guerrero and moved Hernández to third and Trivino to the showers. Adam Kolarek, now pitching, fielded Biggio’s bunt to the mound and threw late to home. Credit Biggio with a sacrifice and an RBI, and charge another run to Trivino.
Kolarek heaved a wild pitch that moved both runners up a base. Gurriel grounded out to Andrus, Grichuk scored, and Biggio moved to third. Santiago Espinal, hitting for Reese McGuir lined out to Laureano to end the inning. Toronto now led 7-3.
With David Phelps pitching in the bottom of the eighth, the A’s managed to sneak a little closer on a walk to Olson and an RBI double by Murphy.
Toronto punished that meek uprising with a two run double by Guerrero in the top of the ninth that ended the scoring for both teams, leaving the A’s looking up at a 9-4 defeat.
The responsiblity for Oakland’s loss can be hinted at by the numbers of their relief pitchers.
Pitcher. IP. H. R. ER. BB. K PC (strikes)
Trivino. 1/3. 3. 5. 5. 2. 0. 19 (9) Kolarek. 2/3. 0. 0. 0. 0. 0. 9 (7) Weems. 1. 1. 2. 2. 2. 1. 27 (13)
WP: Trivino, Kolarek
Toronto used a total of five moundsmen, Ray, Romano, Phelps, Tyler Chatwood, and Ryan Borucki. Romano got the win. The loss, and concommitant blown save, went to Lou Trivino, who now is 1-1, 4:15.
Tomorrow afternoon’s game is scheduled for 12:37. Hyun Jin Ryu (1-2, 2.60) will start for the Jays and Mike Fiers (0-1, 4.50) will toe the rubber for the Athletics.