Valdez outduels hot trade bait Gray
Unheralded Cesar Valdez recorded his first majorleague win in more than seven years Tuesday as the Toronto Blue Jays defeated the Oakland Athletics, 4-1, in American League baseball action.
The 32-year-old right-hander from the Dominican Republic exited to a standing ovation after yielding a double to open the seventh before an announced crowd of 40,624, with the Rogers Centre roof open on a pleasant night for baseball.
Filling in for the injured Aaron Sanchez, Valdez (1-0) gave up one run on five hits with four strikeouts and one walk in a surprisingly smooth 77-pitch outing featuring 51 strikes.
Valdez stole the spotlight from Oakland starter Sonny Gray, with scouts on hand eyeing the 27-yearold Athletics right-hander ahead of Monday’s non-waiver trade deadline. Gray (6-5) arrived having gone 4-1 with a 1.62 earned-run average and .155 opponents’ batting average in his previous five starts.
Valdez took the mound with many wondering who he was. He likely had people looking him up after needing just four pitches to get back to the dugout.
Gray was done-in by four unearned runs in a second inning that saw eight Jays come to the plate. Troy Tulowitzki’s groundout, Ryan Goins’ two-RBI double and Jose Bautista’s double did the damage in a wobbly 32-pitch inning for Gray, who did not help his cause with a costly throwing error.
Toronto (46-54) won back-toback home games for the first time since May 29-31 when they won a series over Cincinnati.
Both teams had six hits.
Valdez’s baseball journey has taken him from Arizona to Pittsburgh, Florida, Toronto, Houston, Oakland and Toronto again with a stop in the Mexican league and a year out of baseball along the way.
His only other win came in his major-league debut May 3, 2010, for Arizona over Houston. He spent most of his career in the minors, with 252 games, 193 starts and an 82-62 record. His major-league account now stands at 18 games, four starts and a 2-2 record.
Cesar Valdez pitched six innings, allowing five hits and a run, in a 4-1 Jays win.