Athletics 5, Blue Jays 3
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)—Several weeks ago, Eric Chavez decided to quit concerning himself with his results at the plate and focus on having quality at-bats.
The approach is working wonders—and his stroke is finally coming back.
So are the Athletics.
Chavez hit a grand slam and Oakland won its season-best fourth straight game, 5-3 over the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday night.
“We weren’t as bad as we were playing,” Chavez said. “But we built ourselves a big hole. We have to keep doing what we’re doing and get back to respectability. We were losing face. Hopefully we can get back to .500 by the All-Star break.”
Chavez, the struggling star who began the day with the fourth-lowest batting average among American League regulars (.218), connected in the fifth on his first pitch from Josh Towers.
It was Chavez’s fifth career grand slam and first since May 11, 2002, also against Toronto. The four RBIs matched his season high, and he also had a seventh-inning double. The home run was No. 168 of his career, moving Chavez past Rickey Henderson into sole possession of sixth place in Oakland history.
“The last two weeks, I’ve been building up,” Chavez said. “I’m feeling comfortable there and I’m able to attack some balls.”
The Blue Jays hadn’t allowed a grand slam since Aug. 28, by the Yankees’ Ruben Sierra. Toronto pitching coach Brad Arnsberg visited the mound to speak to Towers moments before Chavez’s shot to deep center.
Kirk Saarloos (2-4) snapped a 10-game winless stretch for his first victory since beating Baltimore 9-0 in Oakland’s second game of the season. Since then, he’d had four losses and six no-decisions.
Saarloos faced one batter more than the minimum in each of the first four innings, then plunked two in a fifth inning that featured a two-run double by Aaron Hill. Saarloos allowed three runs and six hits in 5 2-3 innings, walking two with no strikeouts.
“Chavy’s grand slam was beautiful. I wanted to kiss him,” Saarloos said. “It’s good to get that second win after two months. It feels like we’re putting things together as a club. We’re hitting and pitching in the same game. It feels like we’ve turned the corner a little bit.”
Rookie Huston Street pitched the ninth for his first save in three chances, only a few hours after the team announced injured closer Octavio Dotel would have reconstructive elbow surgery. It was Street’s first save situation since assuming the job when Dotel went on the disabled list May 20.
Street, a standout college closer at Texas just last year, had mixed emotions afterward.
“Losing O.D. is a huge loss,” Street said. “But I am excited. This is the role I wanted, the role I think I can help the team win in.”
Oakland’s starters have won three straight for the first time all year, and the A’s bats are beginning to warm up after the club finished with a majors-worst 7-20 record in May. The winning streak is Oakland’s longest since it won eight straight from Aug. 23-31 last year.
The Blue Jays took two of three in Oakland’s first home series of the season in April. But Toronto didn’t get enough from Towers (5-4) as the teams opened a four-game series.
Towers lost his third straight start after feeling strong playing catch Wednesday. He was emerging as a strong No. 2 starter behind ace Roy Halladay after winning four straight starts from April 28-May 17, yet he hasn’t maintained that form.
“I was struggling,” Towers said. “I felt weak and couldn’t trace the ball. It felt like there was nothing on it. It was a mess.”
Towers has given up 15 earned runs and 27 hits over 14 2-3 innings. The A’s tagged him for five runs and six hits in 4 1-3 innings. He struck out two and matched his career high with four walks, which he also did last June 4 in Oakland.
He gave up his first grand slam since Miguel Tejada did it while with the A’s on Aug. 24, 2003.
“He’s in a rut now, a very small rut,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “He’ll be fine. We’re just in a minor glitch. These guys will bounce back.”
The Blue Jays have lost three straight road series and had won five of eight before a 3-0 loss to Seattle on Wednesday. … With Wednesday’s win over Tampa Bay, the A’s gained a game in the standings for the first time since April 30. … Dotel will have surgery as soon as possible, despite receiving recommendations from four doctors that he try to rehabilitate the injury first. “Octavio does not feel he can pitch with the level of pain he was pitching with,” trainer Larry Davis said. Dotel is expected to be sidelined for at least a year.
- Hunter, Hamilton lead Rangers past A's 7-3
- Cubs beat Dodgers 5-0 to reach 1st World Series since 1945
- Cubs could get Schwarber back for World Series
- Dueling Droughts: Cubs, Indians set to meet in World Series
- Indians could have starter Salazar back for World Series
- Tigers hire Lloyd McClendon, Leon Durham as hitting coaches