TORONTO — Mark Buehrle isn’t letting the Blue Jays get ahead of themselves, despite their impressive 11-game winning streak.
The Toronto left-hander was solid for more than seven innings and Ryan Goins hit a home run as Toronto defeated the Oakland Athletics 4-2 on Thursday afternoon to continue their dominant run.
Even though the Blue Jays have climbed from fourth to first in the American League East over the course of the streak, Buehrle remains cautious.
“We’re trying to go out and win games but it’s going to end eventually,” he said. “Put me on record: we’re not going to win the rest of the games here on out.
“Don’t like to talk about (the streak) and don’t really pay too much attention to it. Every day’s a new day. We go out there and try to play the best game that day and win that game.”
Buehrle (13-5) had two strikeouts and allowed seven hits and two runs over seven-plus innings as Toronto (64-52) maintained a half-game lead over the New York Yankees in the AL East standings. Aaron Sanchez pitched a scoreless inning of relief while Roberto Osuna earned his 12th save of the season.
Buehrle was dismissive of keeping an eye on the Yankees, who beat the Cleveland Indians 8-6 Thursday night.
“I know guys scoreboard watch and I’m a baseball fan so I watch what’s going on whether we’re in first or in last,” said Buehrle. “But I don’t think we need to have it on in the clubhouse and sit there rooting against the Yankees every game.
“Whatever they’re going to do, it’s going to happen.”
The Blue Jays have a chance to widen the gap this weekend as the Yankees come to the Rogers Centre for a three-game series.
Goins downplayed the matchup.
“I don’t think it’s going to matter the rest of the season who’s in the other dugout,” said Goins. “We’ve still got to come here, we’ve got to play our game, we’ve got to pitch, we’ve got to hit and we’ve got to play defence.”
Billy Burns hit a triple for Oakland (51-65), which has lost three straight, all in Toronto. Starting pitcher Jesse Chavez (6-12) struck out nine but allowed four runs and six hits over six innings.
Drew Pomeranz and Fernando Rodriguez combined for two scoreless innings out of the bullpen for the Athletics.
The decision to start Chavez against his former team came just hours before the first pitch. Athletics ace Sonny Gray was scheduled but back spasms kept him from playing. Chavez pitched in nine games for Toronto in 2012.
Buehrle got in trouble early, loading the bases with no outs in the first. But Buehrle bore down, inducing a double play at home and first from Danny Valencia, then a Josh Phegley ground out to end the inning.
“I think that when he got out of the bases-loaded jam, no outs, that really sums him up,” said Toronto manager John Gibbons. “He’s got that knack of making a big pitch and something good happening when he’s out there.”
Kevin Pillar got Toronto on the board with a single to right field that brought home catcher Dioner Navarro and advanced Justin Smoak to second. Goins cashed in both baserunners with a towering shot over the right-field fence for a 4-0 Toronto lead.
Oakland finally got to Buehrle in the eighth inning when Burns tripled to right field, sending Marcus Semien home.
That run ended Buehrle’s day. He exited to a rousing standing ovation from the 46,902 in attendance, Toronto’s seventh sellout of the season. Sanchez came in from the bullpen to relieve Buehrle.
Mark Canha drove in Burns with a groundout to second, making it 4-2. The second run was also charged to Buehrle as Burns got on base while he was still the pitcher of record.
Sanchez escaped the inning without allowing any more runs. Osuna induced three popouts to end the game.