The Oakland Athletics entered Wednesday’s afternoon game looking to avoid a series sweep to the Toronto Blue Jays. Oakland LHP JP Sears took the mound for manager Mark Kotsay and looked to put the month of August behind him and stay undefeated in September.
JP Sears looked sharp to start the first inning, and he carried that with him while he was on the mound throughout the game. The lefty quickly retired both George Springer and Vlad Guerrero Jr. before walking Davis Schneider. A Whit Merrifield fly out ended the first inning in what would be a preview for much of the game.
Cavan Biggio started off the second inning with a standup double and was driven in two batters later when Ernie Clement singled, scoring the speedy right fielder. Toronto had taken an early lead.
Brent Rooker kicked off the bottom of the fourth with a single against Toronto starter Hyun Jin Ryu, but Ryan Noda hit into a fielder’s choice and Rooker was thrown out at third. After Noda advanced to second base on a wild pitch, Carlos Perez put the A’s ahead with a 2-run homer (his sixth) that brought Noda in and gave Oakland the 2-1 lead:
A pitchers duel was not expected, but that's exactly what it was through the first five innings. Both starters looked fantastic and they had little problem with the opposite lineup. Sears had a few more walks (4) then Ryu (2), but also gave up one less hit as both pitches five full frames. After Sears got through the fifth, he was lifted for Mason Miller who was recently reinstated from the IL. The A’s top pitching prospect was finally back.
Esteury Ruiz continued to do what he does best, picking up a single and stealing bases. The speedy Ruiz successfully swiped second and third to give him 58 stolen bases on the season. The club ultimately stranded him at third base though.
After a Jordan Diaz single to lead off the bottom of the sixth, the hot hitting Carlos Perez continued to make noise with a single to put runners on first and second. With runners on, Kevin Smith hit a no-doubt three run blast off Trevor Richards to put Oakland ahead 5-1, breaking the game open some:
Mason Miller struck out the side in the seventh and ultimately retired all six batters he faced today. The starter-turned-reliever’s stuff was electric and he looked phenomenal in his return to the team. The bullpen appearance was a bit of a surprise but it’s probably best to play it safe with Miller the rest of the season. The expectation was some starts but perhaps the better play is having him be a weapon out of the ‘pen the rest of the season.
Dany Jimenez replaced Mason Miller in the top of the eighth inning and gave up a towering 1-out solo homer to Blue Jays second baseman Davis Schneider. The Oakland reliever retired the next two batters to end the inning with Oakland still leading 5-2.
The welcome sight of Trevor May taking the mound for the A’s can only mean one thing, and that’s the closer looking to secure the win for the green and gold. Not without drama as May gave up a single to Santiago Espinal to put the tying run on deck. Luckily May got Spencer Horowitz hit into a 3-6-1 double play and one more out finished off the win, Oakland’s 43rd win of the year.
Starter JP Sears went five innings, gave up four hits, one earned run, walked four and struck out three in a much-needed outing from the lefty. The club needed a big start today from Sears and he came up with one to help secure the win, pushing his record on the season to 4-11. He’s really pitched so much better than that record shows though. Trevor May picked up his eighteenth save of the season and continues to be a solid arm at the backend of the bullpen.
Toronto first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr saw his twenty-one game on base streak snapped today. The Oakland bullpen was magnificent today and deserves much of the credit in todays win. Good job all around, but Miller looked especially exciting.
The Oakland offense was powered by the long ball today. Both Carlos Perez and Kevin Smith had clutch homers that put Oakland ahead and the A’s never looked back. Perez has struggled and his homer was a much needed confidence boost for the Oakland backstop. Enough cannot be said about the base running of Esteury Ruiz. His ability to create chaos on the base paths is undeniable.
The A’s are headed to Arlington to face the Texas Rangers for three games with Paul Blackburn the expected starter for Friday nights series opener. Texas has yet to announce a starter for tomorrow’s game but we should be finding out soon. Let the road-trip begin!