The Toronto Blue Jays will go for a sweep of their three-game series with the visiting Oakland Athletics on Sunday afternoon as they try to improve their position in the American League wild-card race.
The Blue Jays (72-62) won the first two games of the series, 11-10 and 10-8, to move within one game of the Athletics (74-62), who are tied for third with the Seattle Mariners in the chase for two wild-card spots.
The Blue Jays are five games behind the Boston Red Sox, who occupy the second wild-card spot. The Athletics are four games behind the Red Sox, who defeated the Cleveland Indians 4-3 on Saturday.
The Blue Jays overcame an 8-2 deficit on Friday with a six-run eighth. After Oakland regained the lead in the top of the ninth, the Blue Jays won on Marcus Semien’s three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth.
Oakland attempted a comeback Saturday, scoring five runs in the ninth to make it close.
The Blue Jays have won six of their past seven games. The Athletics have lost six of their past 10.
Blue Jays first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. singled in the eighth inning Saturday to extend his hitting streak to 12 games, which matches his career best. Over his current streak, he is batting .375 (18-for-48) with a double, three home runs and eight RBIs.
Left-hander Robbie Ray (10-5, 2.71 ERA) will start for the Blue Jays on Sunday. He has faced the Athletics once in his career, taking a no-decision on May 5 when he allowed three runs and six hits while striking out nine in six innings.
Left-hander Cole Irvin (9-12, 3.74) will start for Oakland. He won his only start against Toronto on May 4 when he allowed one run and three hits with nine strikeouts in eight innings.
With the focus on Toronto’s hitting, starting pitching cannot be overlooked. Jose Berrios allowed three runs and four hits in 6 2/3 innings Saturday.
“The key was Berrios,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said. “Everything starts on the mound. He was outstanding. He commanded his fastball. When he does that, he’s the guy that we thought we were going to get.”
The Athletics’ bullpen continues to struggle. Lou Trivino has been a problem as manager Bob Melvin tries to get him right. Trivino allowed three runs in two-thirds of an inning on Saturday after giving up four runs in two-thirds of an inning on Friday.
“Obviously, there’s a lack of command in what he’s doing,” Melvin said after the game Saturday. “I was trying to get him in a down game to get him to throw some strikes and get back to doing what he was doing.”
Melvin said center fielder Starling Marte felt better Saturday, but he was still sore so he didn’t play. He was on the bench. Marte, who was hit on the helmet on Friday, stayed in the game to run the bases before being removed. Melvin said he did not believe Marte had a concussion, based on the protocol he went through on Friday.
The Blue Jays added utility player Jake Lamb to the active roster Saturday and optioned left-hander Kirby Snead to Triple-A Buffalo. Lamb was claimed off waivers from the Chicago White Sox.
–Field Level Media