Athletics, Blue Jays brace for drama after walk-off HR

MLB Baseball

The Toronto Blue Jays and visiting Oakland Athletics provided enough momentum shifts Friday night for three games and tightened the American League wild-card chase in the process.

After the Blue Jays (71-62) earned a dramatic 11-10 victory on a three-run homer by Marcus Semien in the bottom of the ninth in the opener of a three-game series, the teams are back at it Saturday afternoon and separated by one game in the loss column on the season.

The Athletics (74-61) led 8-2 going into the bottom of the eighth Friday, but Lou Trivino and Yusmeiro Petit allowed six runs — four of them on Lourdes Gurriel Jr.’s grand slam.

The Athletics regained the lead on Mark Canha’s two-run homer in the top of the ninth against Jordan Romano, setting the stage for Semien’s heroics in the bottom of the inning against Sergio Romo. Semien, who has 34 homers this season, played in Oakland from 2015-20 before signing with Toronto in the offseason.

“It’s not a good feeling when you lose like that,” Canha said. “But I don’t think anyone’s losing faith or anything. We’re a confident group. We’re going to come out tomorrow and keep competing. I think we’re competing really well. We just have to keep fighting.”

It was Semien’s second career walk-off home run.

“There’s nothing like it in baseball,” Semien said. “Then you think of the night we had as a group in the first seven innings — we just woke up.

“We’re going against a team that doesn’t quit as well. You saw the at-bats they put up in the end.”

Toronto will start right-hander Jose Berrios (9-7, 3.53 ERA) on Saturday. He has faced Oakland twice this season and is 0-1 with a 3.75 ERA. In six career outings against Oakland he’s winless (0-3) with a 4.32 ERA.

Oakland turns to right-hander Paul Blackburn (0-1, 2.81). Blackburn took a no-decision in one career start against Toronto, allowing no runs and just two hits in seven innings on July 26, 2017.

The Athletics placed right-hander Frankie Montas, who did not travel to Toronto with them because of a visa issue, on the restricted list on Friday and recalled left-handed reliever Sam Moll from Triple-A Las Vegas.

Montas, who was originally slated to start on Friday, pitched Thursday in Detroit. He could not travel to Canada because of a visa issue. The roster move is temporary and Montas will be back with the team in Oakland after the series in Toronto.

Moll had one previous stint with Oakland this season. He appeared in three games and worked 2 2/3 scoreless innings. After being optioned to Las Vegas, he posted a 1.69 ERA over 10 appearances.

“It never hurts to have another left-hander,” Athletics manager Bob Melvin said. “Certainly this team (the Blue Jays) is predominantly right-handed. But he also has the ability to get some right-handers out. It’s going to be, obviously, for a short period of time, but well-deserved based on what we saw recently and his numbers in Triple-A.”

With Montas unable to pitch in Toronto, left-hander Sean Manaea had a solid outing, allowing two runs and five hits while striking out nine in seven innings and allowed only one hit in his final 12 batters faced. He had made only 86 pitches when Melvin went to the bullpen.

The Blue Jays claimed utility player Jake Lamb off waivers from the Chicago White Sox Friday, designated right-hander Connor Overton for assignment and recalled left-hander Kirby Snead from Triple-A Buffalo.

–Field Level Media

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