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The Grand Slam: Blue Jays snap 17-game losing streak at Yankee Stadium

Mark Townsend
Big League Stew

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The Toronto Blue Jays losing at Yankee Stadium was nearing a death and taxes level inevitability until they finally snapped their 17-game losing streak in New York with a 6-4 victory over the Yankees on Saturday afternoon.

Had they lost the final two games of the series, they would have tied a franchise record in futility. From 1978-81, they lost 19 straight to the Baltimore Orioles

That's no longer a worry now thanks largely to Dan Johnson. Toronto's designated hitter knocked in four runs, including a seventy-foot bloop hit that gave them the lead in the seventh and a three-run ninth inning homer off Jeff Francis that extended their lead to 6-2. A literal bloop and a blast, though rarely do they ever come from the same hitter.

''When you lose 17 in a row, you deserve something like that,'' Manager John Gibbons said.

Johnson at first thought the ball might be caught or even called an infield fly.

''One of the softest hits I've ever got,'' he said. ''There was three guys converging on it, so I couldn't really figure out what was going on.''

No one in Toronto's dugout was arguing with the results, but it was Johnson's three-run blast that proved to be the difference after New York rallied in the ninth. Carlos Beltran hit a two-run homer to make it interesting, but closer Casey Janssen retired Brian McCann and Chase Headley to escape victorious.

HOME RUN BARRAGE: In a matter of six batters, the Oakland A's did all of their offensive damage in their 5-1 victory over the Texas Rangers.

With two outs in the sixth inning, John Jaso got the ball rolling with a two-run homer to right field. Two-time defending Home Run Derby champion Yoenis Cespedes quickly made it back-to-back jacks with a solo shot to almost the exact same spot. Brandon Moss followed with a fly out to end the inning, but Josh Donaldson started the seventh with a solo homer of his own. Two batters later, Josh Reddick also hit a solo homer to wrap up the quick but impressive fireworks show.

Six batters. Four homers. Five runs. And then the offense went silent again, but it didn't matter with Sonny Gray on the hill. All he needed was a couple runs to secure his 12th victory of the season. He allowed one run over 6 2/3 innings and improved to 5-0 with a 1.03 ERA in July.

KERSHAW SHUTS OUT THE GIANTS: Is it more newsworthy when Clayton Kershaw allows a run or throws a shutout? That's a serious question, because the Dodgers left-handed ace is on a sensational tear right now. A tear that continued on Saturday as Kershaw went the distance on a two-hit shutout as the Dodgers defeated the San Francisco Giants 5-0 and took over sole possession of the lead in the NL West. 

Kershaw held the Giants to two singles and walked one while striking out seven. That almost sounds boring in comparison to some of his other gems this season, but he was basically on cruise control. en route to his ninth straight victory.  And we probably shouldn't be too surprised. Four of Kerhsaw's nine career shutouts have come against the Giants. He also owns a 0.69 ERA in 78 2/3 career innings at AT&T Park.

That's not just impressive. That's other-worldly. And he's only getting better! 

PIERZYNSKI DELIVERS IN CARDS DEBUT: It seems A.J. Pierzynski really likes the spotlight. With the baseball world focusing on his St. Louis Cardinals' debut on Saturday afternoon, the 37-year-old catcher responded with three singles and an RBI in the Redbirds 6-3 win over the Chicago Cubs

Not surprisingly, manager Mike Matheny, a catcher himself, was more pleased and impressed by Pierzynski's work behind the plate. With just a few hours of preparation, he was able to get on the same page with starter Shelby Miller and the Cardinals bullpen, which led to a solid pitching performance.

''That was pretty much a cram session for A.J. there,'' Matheny said. ''He did a nice job coming in, obviously making an impact with the bat, but I felt like he had a nice feel for what Shelby (Miller) was doing.''

Veteran leadership is what St. Louis values most, so this was a good first impression for Pierzynski. Of course, they also value scoring runs. Matt Adams helped there with a two-run first inning double and a two-run triple in the seventh.

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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