FINALLY TAKE ONE IN OAKLAND
Donaldson’s two-out, ninth-inning heroics prevent sweep.
OAKLAND, CALIF. — Two days after striking out on an unexpected two-seam fastball from John Axford, Toronto slugger Josh Donaldson had a much better view of things when he faced the Oakland Athletics’ reliever again.
This time Donaldson didn’t get fooled and prevented the Blue Jays from getting swept in their first series coming out of Major League Baseball’s all-star break.
Donaldson hit a tiebreaking two-run double off Axford, from Ancaster, with two outs in the ninth against his former team and Toronto held on to beat Oakland 5-3 on Sunday.
“He just started throwing a two-seamer and I didn’t really know he had that,” Donaldson said of Axford. “He busted it out on me (Friday), a good pitch. Today I was able to see it and get in a favourable count where I could zone it up more.”
Donaldson also singled and scored in the first inning to help Toronto win after Oakland starter Rich Hill left the game with a blister on his finger in the opening inning.
Troy Tulowitzki homered while Russell Martin and Justin Smoak added two hits apiece for Toronto.
The Blue Jays needed it after losing their first two games coming out of the all-star break to fall four games behind first place Baltimore in the American League East.
“We desperately needed that as a team,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said. “We had the little lead, they came back and tied it. That’s a big win for us.”
Smoak and Junior Lake hit consecutive one-out singles off John Axford (3-3) in the ninth. Devon Travis struck out looking before Donaldson lined a 2-1 pitch down the left-field line to drive in pinch-runner Andy Burns and Lake.
Donaldson, who played in Oakland from 2010-14, was greeted with a rousing ovation and chants of “MVP, MVP” from the crowd of 21,626 at the Coliseum.
Jason Grilli (3-1) retired three batters for the win. Roberto Osuna pitched the ninth for his 19th save. Marcus Semien homered for the A’s. “Nice little fight until the end,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said.
“They got a key hit when they had to in the ninth.” HAPP HIT TWICE Happ had won six consecutive starts, but left after getting hit by line drives twice, including once near his left elbow by Jake Smolinski’s liner in the fifth. The Blue Jays’ lefty allowed three runs over 5 2/3 innings with five strikeouts and one walk. “Hopefully he’ll be fine, but you never know if it’s going to stiffen up on him,” Gibbons said. “He gutted it out. That doesn’t surprise me. I’ve seen him get hit in the head.”
UP NEXT Blue Jays: RHP Aaron Sanchez (9-1) pitches the opener of a two-game series in Arizona on Tuesday. He has eight straight wins and a 2.87 ERA since suffering his lone loss of the season to Oakland on April 22. Athletics: RHP Kendall Graveman (5-6) starts against Houston on Monday at the Coliseum.
Blue Jays’ Josh Donaldson gets a big hit off of Athletics John Axford in the ninth Sunday.
Blue Jays shortstop Troy Tulowitzki hits a two-run home run in the fourth inning.