Sports Baseball

BLUE JAYS

Blue Jays snap losing skid in battle of bottom feeders

By Steve Buffery, Toronto Sun

Toronto - 

The Blue Jays still have a pulse.

On Monday night at the Rogers Centre, Jays’ hitters stranded nine base runners, and left the bases loaded twice, but still managed to defeat the Oakland A’s 4-2 in a battle of American League division bottom feeders.

The win snapped a three-game losing streak for the Jays who rode a solid five-inning, bounce-back performance by left-handed starter Francisco Liriano.

“We’ll heat up, there’s no doubt in my mind,” said Jays’ manager John Gibbons. “This group here has really put baseball back on the map in Canada and I don’t forget that, and everybody else doesn’t either. We show up everyday and two months from now we’ll see where we’re at. But it’s a pretty good group.”

The A’s jumped on Liriano in the first inning when Ryon Healy hit a line drive to left field to score Marcus Semien.

The Jays tied it on the solo shot by catcher Russell Martin, his 10th of the season on a 3-2 count, over the wall in left in the bottom of the first.

Toronto jumped ahead 3-1 in the fourth as Ezequiel Carrera and Ryan Goins hit singles with the bases loaded to score runs. Bautista grounded out to Oakland starter Chris Smith to the end the inning with the bases still stacked. Goins is now 9-for-12 with the bases loaded this season (12-for-27 career, .444 average). Josh Donaldson opened the inning by hammering a double to the wall between centre and right.

After giving the run in the first, Liriano retired the next 12 batters before giving up a solo home run to Matt Chapman in the fifth. He ended up going five innings, giving up only two hits, walked two and struck out five. He was removed in the second inning in his last start in Boston after the second inning. Liriano pitched on just three days’ rest, with Toronto altering its rotation in the wake of Aaron Sanchez’s latest trip to the DL.

“He walked his first two guys and then he settled in,” said Gibbons. “He had great stuff tonight, there’s no doubt about that. When he walks the first two of the game you don’t know what to expect ... but he settled in and gave us just what we needed.”

The Jays blew an opportunity to add more runs in the sixth. But after Steve Pearce hit a lead off double and moved to third on a Troy Tulowitzki grounder to short, Carrera walked and Kevin Pillar laid down a bunt towards the pitcher Smith, who picked it up and threw it to catcher Josh Phegley to nail Pearce at home. Goins then flew out to centre for the third out, ending the threat.

Canadian right-hander John Axford started the seventh for the A’s and promptly loaded the bases before being relieved by Josh Smith. Smith then walked Justin Smoak with the bases loaded and none out, scoring Bautista from third, putting the Jays ahead 4-2. But then Tulowitzki grounded out into a double play to strand the bases again.

Joe Biagini pitched two solid innings of relief for the Jays, giving up no hits and walking one.

Toronto closer Roberto Osuna struck out the side in the ninth the preserve the win and pick up his 25th save of the season. Including Ryan Tepera, Toronto relievers pitched four innings without giving up a hit.