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Game #57: Bye, Bye Birdie! A’s 5, Jays 3

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Oakland Athletics Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

The score of the first inning does not tell the story of Sean Manaea’s amazing job on the mound. Manaea entered the day with an average of 10.1 strikeouts per 9 innings on the season. This seems to be forming into a consistent pattern as he struck out 7 in 6 innings (2 in the 1st, 2 in the 2nd, 1 in the 3rd, 1 in the 4th, 1 in the 5th).

An unfortunate first allowed the Blue Jays to score the first run. Leadoff batter Kevin Pillar walked. Josh Donaldson then doubled in Pillar to pick up the first hit and first RBI/run of the game. While there may have been the possibility of a play at the plate, the throw in from Khris Davis missed the first cutoff man. Manaea handled the inning well, grounding Bautista into a 6-3 out. Manaea then struckout Kendrys Morales and Justin Smoak to retire the rest of the side.

Ryon Healy doesn’t let the Blue Jays enjoy their lead for long. The second inning began with Khris Davis drawing a walk. Yonder Alonso moved him to second on a single to right fielder Jose Bautista, And then, Healy takes a fly ball deep to center field for a 426 foot homerun, number 12 on the season—team homerun #85 on the season. Athletics 3, Blue Jays 1.

An amusing aside for the Athletics, not so for the Jays, happened when the Bay’s “secret weapon” was released in the 3rd. An apt title might be “Birds annoying birds” given Joey Bats (Jose Bautista’s) display of frustration. Have a look as the secret weapon led Jose Bautista to become strikeout victim #5 on the night:

Ryon Healy made sure those birds knew who was boss tonight, however, as he took the ball downtown yet again for a two-run homer in his second at-bat on the night, knocking in Khris Davis who walked for the second time on the night. His back-to-back homers and 5 RBI’s looked like this:

In the top of the 5th, Manaea walked the leadoff batter and it did him in again, just like the first inning. With Carrera on first, Kevin Pillar then followed with his 14th double of the season to pull the Jays closer by one. Josh Donaldson followed as the first out of the inning on a grounder to Chad Pinder who threw him out at first as Pillar advanced to third. Bautista sent a ground shot to Plouffe at third who threw Pillar out at home. Manaea then finished off the inning by striking out Kendrys Morales on a slider to end the inning. Athletics 5, Jays 2.

Despite being over 100 pitches in five innings, Manaea came out for the 6th and quickly dispatched the Justin Smoak as he lined to right. Sunnyvale’s Fremont High School graduate Troy Tulowitzki took the ball to the warning track but Cahna ran it down for the second out. He closed out the inning by getting Russell Martin to fly out to Rajai Davis in center. So, at the end of 6 and 111 pitches (72 of which were strikes), Manaea left the rest of the game up to his bullpen.

J.A. Happ started the bottom of the 6th with his fourth strikeout, Khris Davis. Happ only made it one more batter as Yonder Alonso took a sharp liner to right field for a double. Ryon Healy coming up led to Danny Barnes replacing Happ. A good move as Barnes got Healy grounds out to Tulowitzki who throws to first for the out. Trevor Plouffe fouled out to first baseman Justin Smoak.

John Axford replaced Manaea and quickly dispatched Ryan Goins, in for Darwin Barney, with his first strikeout on a curveball that had him looking as home plate umpire Jerry Davis called him out.

Axford then gave up a base hit to Carrera which had Liam Hendriks up in the bullpen. Pillar followed with a fielder’s choice as Lowrie nabbed the lead runner by tossing to Pinder at second. And, for all that Trevor Plouffe is not hitting, he leaped to nab a should-be base hit by Donaldson to end the inning and end the 7th inning with a stretch. Hendriks came in as the setup man in the 8th, and Plouffe’s defensive strength saved the day again:

Unfortunately Hendriks gave up a home run to the next batter, Justin Smoak, who hit his 15th of the year to make the score 5-4. Troy Tulowitzki followed with a ground ball hit to right field. Russell Martin, however, followed with his second strikeout of the game to end the inning. Oakland 5, Toronto 3.

Santiago Casilla, in for the 9th, strikes out Ryan Goins. Unfortunately a strong at-bat by Carrera followed and he won by picking up a base on balls. Plouffe, a third excellent play of the night, nabbing a hard shot by Kevin Pillar let to a 5-4 out at second. Two out in the 9th and Josh Donaldson in the box. The A’s always know how to make it exciting. With a 1-2 count, the fans on their feet, Casilla strikes out Donaldson to end the game and pick up the save. Sean Manaea picks up his 4th win in a row

Tune in tomorrow as Jesse Hahn, coming off the disabled list, will take the mound. Go A’s!