Donaldson's heroics help Blue Jays find winning formula again in Oakland

Jul 18 2016, 4:49 am

The Toronto Blue Jays managed to salvage one game of their three game series in Oakland on the strength of Josh Donaldson’s 21st double in the 9th inning leading the team to a 5-3 victory.

In Sunday’s afternoon affair, the Jays got back to the winning formula that had propelled them to winning eight of their past nine games before the All-Star break. That approach includes getting an early lead for their starters and working counts in an effort to get to their oppositions bullpen as soon as possible.

Luckily for the Blue Jays, Athletics starter Rich Hill, who is most likely to be traded before the trade deadline at the end of the month, left the game in the 1st inning after five pitches when a blister popped on his throwing hand.

With Hill exiting the game, right-handed middle reliever Andrew Triggs came on in emergency relief to finish the inning and promptly gave up singles to Blue Jays All-Stars Josh Donaldson and Edwin Encarnacion. An error by A’s left fielder Khris Davis then allowed Donaldson to score. Troy Tulowitzki continued his hot-hitting ways cracking a 2-run home run in the 4th inning off of A’s rookie starter Sean Manaea, who came into the game in the 2nd to help eat some innings for the team.

Provided with an early lead, bagged milk aficionado J.A. Happ coasted through the early innings, scattering a few hits across five frames until running into trouble in the 6th when Marcus Semien hit his 20th home run.

After coaxing Josh Reddick to ground out, former Blue Jay Danny Valencia followed with a single, and a walk to Khris Davis ended Happ’s day. Jesse Chavez quickly ruined Happ’s chance at his 13th win of the season by giving up a 2-run double to A’s pinch hitter Yonder Alonso that tied the game 3-3.

In the 9th, Kevin Pillar grounded out to lead off the inning which was followed by a weakly hit infield single off the end of Justin Smoak’s bat, which happened beat the shift Oakland had employed. Junior Lake’s single, followed by a Devon Travis strikeout set the stage for former Oakland Athletic and reigning AL MVP Josh Donaldson to cash in pinch runner Andy Burns and Lake with a two-out double off of Canadian reliever John Axford, which gave the Jays the lead for good.

Roberto Osuna entered the game in the bottom of the 9th inning and collected his 19th save of the season.

More one-run losses

Sunday’s game was a much needed departure from the reoccurring theme for the Blue Jays season, as the team continued their string of bad luck in one-run ball games after losing the first two games of the series in Oakland 8-7 on Friday night and 5-4 on Saturday.

With those two losses, the Blue Jays record in one-run games fell to 9-17. An optimist would say that their luck is bound to turn, and just in time for the stretch run, but a pessimist will likely lay their struggles at the feet of manager John Gibbons. The truth is most likely somewhere in middle.

Different Davis, same result

It doesn’t seem to matter if you spell it with a ‘C’ or a ‘K’, if your name is Chris/Khris Davis, Blue Jays pitching has been very good to you this season.

With this most recent series in the books, the Orioles slugger and the free-swinging Athletic have now hit .340 with 8 home runs and 18 runs batted in against Blue Jays pitching this season. With the O’s coming to town on July 29th, the Jays might consider changing their approach to Mr. Davis.

Jays extend Smoak; Edwin insurance?

On Saturday, the Blue Jays extended 1B Justin Smoak for two years for $8.5 million guaranteed with a $6 million club option for 2019.

For the team, Smoak provides them with some cost certainty for the 2017 season at a time when the team has a lot of expiring contracts and unknowns at this point. Some fans feel like signing Smoak to that dollar figure somehow blocks the team’s ability to re-sign Jose Bautista and/or Edwin Encarnacion, since a move to first base is likely in Joey Bats’ near future. But in reality, the signing of a slightly above average first baseman who is a known entity is exactly the type of player Atkins and Shapiro desire at this point.

What’s next?

After a day off on Monday, the Blue Jays head south to Arizona to take on the struggling Diamondbacks for a two-game set starting on Tuesday at 9:40PM EST with Aaron Sanchez (9-1, 2.97) facing off against right-hander Zack Godley (2-0, 5.28).

Paul EdwardsPaul Edwards

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