Blue Jays 8 Athletics 4
TORONTO — Steve Pearce and Kendrys Morales hammered their way into the Blue Jays record book Thursday afternoon as Toronto finished off a four-game sweep of the Oakland Athletics with panache.
There were some casualties en route to the 8-4 win, capped by Pearce’s grand slam in the 10th inning. Manager John Gibbons, starter Marcus Stroman and catcher Russell Martin were all ejected in the fifth inning in a beef with home plate umpire Will Little.
Toronto trailed 3-1 at the time.
Fast forward to the ninth and Morales, whose homer in the ninth had given the Jays a 3-2 walkoff win the night before, hit his second solo home run of the afternoon to tie the game at 4-4.
After a 1-2-3 10th inning by closer Roberto Osuna (3-0), Toronto went to work on former Jay Liam Hendriks (3-2). Walks to Miguel Montero, Justin Smoak and finally Morales with two outs loaded the bases, setting the stage for Pearce to drive home the final nail with a blast deep to left on a 3-2 count.
It marked the first walkoff homers in back-to-back games in franchise history. Pearce beamed as he circled the bases on his second career grand slam and first walkoff homer. He joins George Bell (1988) and Gregg Zaun (2008) as the only Jays to hit a walkoff slam.
“It felt good off the bat,” the soft-spoken Pearce said.
“Our bullpen came in and did a great job and we found a way to get it done. So it was just a great day,” he added.
Now Toronto (48-54) has to keep the wins coming with the Los Angeles Angels coming to town.
It had looked like Marcus Semien’s eighth-inning RBI single would give the Athletics a 4-3 win. But Morales’ ninth-inning blast kept things going.
It was his 20th home run of the season. Morales leads the majors this season with four ninth-inning homers that have helped his team tie or take the lead.
Semien had singled off reliever Ryan Tepera with two outs to score Jaycob Brugman, who singled to open the inning and moved to second on a wild pitch.
Neither team seemed happy with Little’s work behind the plate from the get-go and his calls sparked a flashpoint in the fifth inning.
Gibbons was the first to go, getting the heave-ho for some comments from the dugout.
Stroman and Martin were both dismissed soon after, following Stroman’s season-high sixth walk of the game. Stroman charged home plate and had to be restrained by bench coach DeMarlo Hale as he attempted to get at Little.
It was Gibbons’ fourth ejection of the season, bringing the team total to seven. Stroman and Martin are the first Jays players to be tossed in 2017.
Hale took over post-game media duties for Gibbons. Stroman spoke but not about the ejections.
“When it comes to umpires or anything like that, I’m not going to be making any comments about that,” said Stroman. “I want to make my next start.”
Said Hale: “It was an emotional game, with some balls and strikes that were questionable. But that’s part of the game. It got to a point where something was said and it kind of escalated”
Stroman, who wears his heart on is sleeve at all times, walked a career-high six.
“It’s frustrating when I walk six guys That’s not me at all,” said Stroman, who threw 90 pitches of which just 52 were strikes.
The Athletics have their own history with Little, who ejected manager Bob Melvin and Jed Lowrie earlier this season.
“Both sides probably had some issues today,” said Melvin. “Certainly they took a little more exception. He’s a good guy, he works hard. He’s a young umpire. It is what it is.”
The sellout crowd of 47,484 booed the ejections. Chris Smith came into pitch with Montero catching for Toronto, with Smith registering his first major-league strikeout.
Morales responded with his bat — opening the Jays’ half of the fifth with a solo homer to cut Oakland’s lead to 3-2. Smoak’s RBI single in the sixth tied the game at 3-3.
Stroman, who has been bothered by a raw patch on his finger, gritted his way through the 4 2/3 innings he lasted. He walked four batters in the first two innings and trailed 3-1 after the first. The right-hander faced 16 hitters in the first three innings alone.
Six of his first seven deliveries were balls as he opened the game by yielding a walk and single. Another walk loaded the bases with one out.
Three runs came in on Ryon Healy’s groundout and Bruce Maxwell’s two-run single. A frustrated Stroman slammed his glove down as he returned to the dugout after a 26-pitch inning.
Oakland’s Sean Manaea, meanwhile, retired 12 of the first 13 batters he faced with Josh Donaldson’s first-inning homer the lone blemish. The six-foot-five left-hander gave up three runs on seven hits over seven innings with seven strikeouts and no walks.
The lunchtime start marked Camp Day, making for a colourful palate in the crowd with the Rogers Centre roof open.
Melvin, in his fourth try, was denied career win No. 1,000. Instead he got loss No. 1,013.
It’s the Jays first four-game win streak since a five-game run May 21-27.
The news was all bad for Oakland (44-58), which has lost seven of its last 10 to fall to a season-low 14 games under .500. The Athletics, who have lost 12 of their last 13 at Rogers Centre, return home after a 1-6 road trip.
Oakland has blown five of its last six save opportunities.