The Toronto Blue Jays needed to catch a few breaks to end their season-long six-game losing skid. Good breaks have been few and far between for the Blue Jays lately, but they got one on Saturday night in Oakland.
Toronto ended that skid with a 3-1, 11-inning win over the Athletics thanks to a game-changing display of aggressive base running. A costly error by a Toronto native helped, too.
After first baseman David Cooper tied the game 1-1 in the top of ninth with a solo home run off Ryan Cook, the Blue Jays put together another rally in the 11th. Edwin Encarnacion singled and Rajai Davis walked to put runners at first and second with one out.
That brought catcher Jeff Mathis to the plate. On the 3-2 pitch the runners took off. Mathis swung and missed but Athletics catcher George Kottaras' throw to third sailed into left field to allow Encarnacion to score.
The error by Kottaras, who was born in Scarborough, Ont., kept the inning alive. Toronto added an insurance run and held on for the much-needed victory.
"We earned that one," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "It's been a while since we shook hands after a game. Oddly enough, we had to play another extra-inning game to do it."
On Friday night, Mathis hit a three-run homer off Cook in the ninth to tie it, but the Jays lost in 15 innings.
"We took some calculated chances and gambled on a few pitches," Farrell said. "That last inning we rolled the dice, trying to make something happen."
The Blue Jays hope weeks worth of bad luck now are behind them. They have been riddled by injuries to their starting rotation, and more recently, their offense. Colby Rasmus missed Saturday's game, bringing the list of Toronto regulars out of the lineup to five.
Saturday's lineup featured four position players who began the season at Triple-A, including third-baseman Adeiny Hechavarria, who was making his major-league debut. Right-fielder Moises Sierra was appearing in just his fourth big-league game, and center-fielder Anthony Gose in his 13th.
Toronto regulars Jose Bautista, J.P. Arencibia, Adam Lind and Brett Lawrie also missed the game. Bautista, the two-time defending home-run champ, is eligible to come off the disabled list but is not ready. The Blue Jays also have four starting pitchers on the DL.
Albert Pujols is back from an early-season slump, just in time for the Los Angeles Angels' playoff stretch run.
Pujols, who took until May 6 to hit his first home with the Angels and had his average hovering around the Mendoza line, mashed six home runs last week and drove in 13 runs.
He's up to 24 home runs with 76 RBIs on the season and batting .289 after the terribly slow start to his first season in Los Angeles after signing a 10-year, $254 million contract in the winter.