OAKLAND — The A’s had already endured enough misfortune for the day, then they watched their former star third baseman deliver a game-deciding hit in the ninth.
Josh Donaldson’s two-run go-ahead double in the top of the ninth off John Axford thrilled a vocal contingent of blue-clad Toronto fans sitting behind the first base dugout Sunday.
The A’s? They could have done without that in a 5-3 loss that also included Rich Hill leaving after five pitches because of a recurring blister on his hand.
Despite that development, and despite a second pitcher — Andrew Triggs — leaving with his own injury after the first — the A’s looked like they might pull off an improbably victory and complete a sweep of the Blue Jays. Donaldson, the reigning American League MVP had other ideas, as he lined a double down the left-field line off John Axford in the ninth to score tie and snap a 3-3 tie. Donaldson came into that at-bat 2-for-11 with one RBI in the three-game series.
The A’s called for three runs to tie the game in the sixth, getting a homer from Marcus Semien and a two-run pinch-hit double from Yonder Alonso. They couldn’t pull it out in the end but still took two of three from the AL East-contending Blue Jays in the first series coming out of the All-Star break.
Starting pitching report
Who exactly do we include here? Hill left before facing even one hitter. Triggs replaced him but left after the first inning with a left calf contusion. Sean Manaea is worthy of the most space. Slated to start Tuesday, he took the mound on emergency duty to begin the second inning and delivered five innings of three-hit ball. The only blemish was Troy Tulowitzki’s two-run homer to center, which came on an 0-2 pitch and gave Toronto a 3-0 lead. Manaea struck out four and didn’t issue a walk. Impressive work, all things considered.
Former Blue Jay Liam Hendriks came up with a big outing against his former team. He entered in the seventh with two on and two out with the game tied, and he retired Donaldson on a foul pop to end the threat. Hendriks added a scoreless eighth against the heart of the Jays’ order. He fared better than the reliever the A’s sent to Toronto for Hendriks last winter. Jesse Chavez relieved Jays starter J.A. Happ in the sixth and immediately gave up Alonso’s game-tying two-run double.
At the plate
Semien’s homer was his 20th on the season, as he joined Khris Davis as the second Athletic to reach that milestone. His homer gave the A’s 12 in the six-game season series against Toronto. That ties the Oakland record for most home runs against a single opponent in six or fewer games for a season.
In the field
Davis’ sloppy misplay of Edwin Encarnacion’s single in the first allowed Donaldson to score all the way from first and accounted for the game’s only error.
The announced turnout was 21,626.
After splitting four games at Houston leading into the All-Star break, the A’s now welcome the Astros for three. Monday’s opener pits Kendall Graveman (5-6, 4.37) against Mike Fiers (6-3, 4.35) with a 7:05 p.m. first pitch. Oakland has yet to announce a Tuesday starter after Sean Manaea was called upon for emergency duty Sunday. The Astros will go with lefty Dallas Keuchel (6-9, 4.80) in the 7:05 game. Daniel Mengden (1-4, 5.54) and Doug Fister (9-6, 3.64) take the mound in Wednesday’s 12:35 matinee.