By Charlie O. Mallonee
The Oakland Athletics lost the final game of the three-game series to the Toronto Blue Jays 5-3 on Sunday afternoon, but the A’s still won the series two games to one.
The Sunday game had “weird” painted all over it right from the beginning. Rich Hill started the game for Oakland and the speculation was that it would be his final start as an Athletic because of his trade value. Hill threw five pitches and called the trainer to the mound. A piece of skin came off where he had a blister that caused him to miss a start, and that was it for Hill. His day was over.
The A’s would use seven pitchers in the game but the real surprise was the appearance of starting pitcher Sean Manaea in the second inning of the game. The rookie left-hander was scheduled to start the game on Tuesday versus the Astros. After it was determined that reliever Andrew Triggs could not continue after being hit in the calf with a batted ball, manager Bob Melvin called on Manaea.
Melvin talked about how tough it was to ask Manaea to respond so quickly. “It’s tough to ask the kid to do something like that too. We were going to limit his pitches but we just didn’t have enough bullpen wise to get through the game if we didn’t use him. He responded really well. I’m sure he didn’t come to the ballpark thinking I might pitch today.”
Manaea worked five innings giving up two runs (both earned) on three hits. He struck out four Blue Jay hitters. Manaea did give up a two-run home run to Troy Tulowitzki in the top of the fourth inning. Tulowitzki hit his 16th home run of the season over the center field wall. Manaea did not figure in on the decision in Sunday’s game.
The Tulowitzki home run gave Toronto a 3-0 lead. The Jays scored a run in the that wild and confusing top of the first inning.
The A’s were having to battle the strong pitching of J.A. Happ who entered the game with a 12-3 record. Happ held the A’s hitless through the first three innings.
The A’s broke through in the bottom of the sixth inning when they sent nine men to the plate and scored three runs on four hits to tie the game at 3-3. Marcus Semien started the scoring for the A’s by hitting his 20th home run of the year.
The game remained tied until the top of the ninth when the Blue Jays put runners on base by virtue of back-to-back base hits. With two outs, former Athletic Josh Donaldson stepped in and hit a double to left field that drove in two runs giving Toronto a 5-3 lead. The A’s were unable to respond in the bottom of the ninth and the final score was Toronto 5 Oakland 3.
On the bump
Rich Hill showed reporters his finger and the skin that had come off that finger. It does not look like an injury that is going to heal quickly. Bob Melvin was clear in postgame press conference that Hill was not a candidate to start on Tuesday against Houston.
Andrew Triggs who was hit by a ball on his left calf has a serious contusion. Melvin said they will evaluate Triggs situation again on Monday.
Marc Rzepczynski worked 0.2 of an inning and struck out two batters. Liam Hendricks pitched 1.1 innings and walked one hitter while giving up no runs in relief.
John Axford (3-3) took the loss going 0.2 innings giving up two runs (earned) on three hits. He walked two and struck out one.
Patrick Schuster worked 0.1 inning to close out the game.
Happ worked 5.2 innings giving up 3 runs (all earned) on five hits for Toronto. He struck out five and walked one. Happ did not figure in on the decision.
Jason Grilli (3-1) was credited with the win. Grilli worked 1.0 inning giving up no runs and no hits in his time on the mound.
The save went to Roberto Osuna. It is his 19th save of the season.
In the batter’s box
Marcus Semien went 1-for-4 with a run scored, a home run and a RBI. He now has 20 home runs and 48 RBI both of which are career highs.
Danny Valencia had a 2-for-4 day that included scoring a run. Valencia is now hitting .307 in the 56 games since he came off the disabled list May 6th. There have to be some contending teams that want his bat in their lineup and are willing to part with prospects to get it.
Jed Lowrie went 2-for-4 on Sunday. Lowrie is 6-for-16 (.375) in his four starts as the leadoff batter this season.
Yonder Alonso came into the game as a pinch hitter in the sixth inning and went 1-for-2 hitting a double that was good for two RBI.
Josh Donaldson has reached base safely in 22 straight games and is hitting .388 over that period. He went 2-for-5 on Sunday.
Russell Martin went 2-for-3 on Sunday and scored a run. He is hitting .324 over the last 10 games.
Edwin Encarnacion had a 1-for-4 day but is .394 over his last 20 games.
The Athletics were involved in a minor transaction on Sunday as they acquired left-handed pitcher Ross Detwiler from the Cleveland Indians for cash considerations. Detwiler was pitching for Triple-A Columbus and will be assigned to Triple-A Nashville for the A’s. He will not be on the 40-man roster.
This move was made to shore up the pitching staff in Nashville which has seen so many changes as pitchers have been promoted to Oakland and others have been designated for assignment.
Toronto first baseman Justin Smoak signed a two-year contract extension worth $8.25 million on Saturday. The contract includes an option year that would pay Smoak $6 million if exercised.
“We love Toronto, me and my family, and we wanted to stay here as long as we can,” Smoak said. “So we just wanted to get something done.”
Smoak is currently a role player for the Blue Jays. His signing is seen as protection at first base in case free agent Edwin Encarnacion signs elsewhere.
Three-game series in Oakland with Houston:
Mon – RHP Kendall Graveman (5-6,4.37) vs. RHP Mike Fiers (6-3,4.35) 7:05 PM
Tue – To be announced vs. LHP Dallas Keuchel (6-9,4.90) 7:05 PM
Wed – RHP Daniel Mengden (1-4,5.54) vs. RHP Doug Fister (9-6,3.64) 12:35 PM
Toronto heads to Phoenix for two games with the Diamondbacks