Blue Jays 11, Athletics 7
Wells homered twice to spark big innings that helped Josh Towers win consecutive decisions for the first time in nearly two years. The Toronto Blue Jays snapped a four-game losing streak with a 11-7 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Monday night.
“They came in situations where I was able to get innings started,” Wells said. “That’s the biggest thing. We were able to score some runs. Hopefully we can continue to get better as an offense and be more consistent. That’s something we haven’t been able to do this year and I’m one of the big reasons why it’s been that way.”
After signing a $126 million, seven-year contract in the offseason, Wells has struggled for the Blue Jays and came into the game with a .247 average. Expected to be one of Toronto’s big run producers, Wells has had his most success in his few chances in the leadoff spot.
He is batting .371 with five homers and 11 RBIs in eight games at the top of the order, helping Toronto win six of them. After Toronto won five of six games with Wells leading off late last month, manager John Gibbons moved him back down in the lineup and the Blue Jays lost three straight.
Wells returned to the top spot in Sunday’s loss at Seattle and came through big against Lenny DiNardo (3-5) and the A’s. Wells’ improved play has also come since he tinkered with his stance and switched to a lighter bat.
“I’m not strong enough,” he joked. “I’m a leadoff guy now. I have to get on for the big guys.”
Wells sparked a six-run third inning with a home run and added another solo shot—his 11th of the season—to lead off the sixth against Colby Lewis. Wells added two singles, matching his career high with four hits.
That helped give Towers (4-5) all the support he needed to earn the win. Towers had won just two of his previous 19 starts before beating Minnesota last week. He followed that up by allowing four runs and five hits in five innings to beat the A’s, his first back-to-back wins since August 2005 against the Orioles and the Angels.
“We’ve won my last three starts. That’s what feels really good,” Towers said. “We weren’t winning any of my starts last year or earlier this year.”
Frank Thomas had three hits and two RBIs in his first game back in Oakland since signing as a free agent with the Blue Jays in the offseason. Thomas got a warm ovation before striking out in the first inning. He followed that with three straight singles, driving in runs in the third and sixth.
“You put him in the middle of the lineup and he’s dangerous,” A’s manager Bob Geren said. “He’s been dangerous for a long time.”
DiNardo fell apart with one out in the third inning. Wells homered to start a run of eight straight batters reaching base against DiNardo, who ended his night with an error on Jason Phillips’ slow roller in front of the mound with the bases loaded.
Thomas and Adam Lind hit RBI singles in the inning, Aaron Hill added a run-scoring double and Royce Clayton hit a sacrifice fly that scored Curtis Thigpen when catcher Kurt Suzuki couldn’t handle right fielder Nick Swisher’s throw.
DiNardo allowed six runs—four earned—and eight hits in 2 1-3 innings, his shortest start of the season.
“I looked at the tape and it was like night and day,” DiNardo said. “The first two innings I felt like I was on my game. I was pounding the strike zone down. I have to look at what happened in the third inning and work on it.”
The A’s scored twice in the second inning on an RBI single by Johnson and a run-scoring double by Marco Scutaro. Johnson added a two-run homer in the fourth to cut Toronto’s lead to 6-4, but that was as close as the A’s got as Toronto added two runs each in the sixth and seventh innings.
Wells has 16 career multihomer games. … Scutaro was replaced by pinch-runner Donnie Murphy after being hit on the hand by a pitch from Jason Frasor in the seventh inning. He got X-rays after the game and the A’s hope it’s just a bruise. … Swisher tossed his helmet aside in frustration after striking out in the first inning. But he held on too long and the helmet went right at plate umpire Tony Randazzo, who snagged it with one hand and smiled at Swisher.