Santiago Espinal and Spencer Horwitz belted RBI doubles during a three-run 10th inning and the visiting Toronto Blue Jays picked up a key win in the American League wild-card race, beating the Oakland Athletics 6-5 to open a three-game series Monday afternoon.
Coupled with a loss by the Texas Rangers at home against the Houston Astros, the Blue Jays (76-62) moved within a half-game of the Rangers in their duel for the final AL wild card.
After blowing a 3-0 lead, the Blue Jays wasted no time gaining the upper hand in the 10th when Espinal laced reliever Francisco Perez’s first pitch into the left-field corner, scoring automatic runner Mason McCoy.
Cavan Biggio made it a two-run inning with an RBI single off Perez (1-2) two batters later, and after Vladimir Guerrero Jr. drew a walk, Horwitz bombed his double to the fence in left-center field, giving the visitors a 6-3 edge.
Horwitz’s hit proved critical when, with Oakland’s automatic runner on second, Lawrence Butler belted his second home run of the game, a two-run shot that closed the gap to 6-5.
The A’s (42-96) got the potential tying run aboard when Tony Kemp walked with one out, but closer Jordan Romano (5-5) induced a double-play grounder off the bat of Zack Gelof, locking down the win.
The Blue Jays gave starter Jose Berrios a 3-0 cushion after A’s starter Luis Medina shut them out on one hit through four innings.
Medina, normally an opener, seemed to run out of gas in the fifth, walking Alejandro Kirk and Daulton Varsho to open the inning before Ernie Clement singled to load the bases.
Medina got Kevin Kiermaier to ground into a double play, which scored Kirk, before George Springer doubled to make it 2-0 and end the right-hander’s day.
Biggio greeted reliever Sean Newcomb with an RBI single, making it 3-0.
Butler’s first home run of the game in the bottom of the fifth, Ryan Noda’s 14th of the season in the sixth and Jordan Diaz’s 10th of the year in the seventh drew Oakland even, setting up the tight finish.
Butler’s and Noda’s shots came off Berrios, who allowed just two other hits over six innings. He walked one and struck out seven.
Medina, making a surprise start after being reinstated from the injured list before the game, allowed three runs and three hits in 4 2/3 innings. He walked three and struck out three.
Oakland had its three-game winning streak snapped.
—Field Level Media
Field Level Media