Blue Jays even series vs. A's as Mark Buehrle extends shutout streak: Griffin
OAKLAND-Has lefthander Mark Buehrle become the new ace of the Blue Jays starting rotation? If so, it has likely been by default as the 12-year veteran ran his record to 7-7 with a 5-0 victory over the A's at the Coliseum on Tuesday night.
Buehrle tossed seven shutout innings on the heels of his two-hit shutout of the Astros and ran his scoreless innings streak to 20. His personal high is 25.2 innings without a run.
“The first three innings weren't too many quiet outs,” Buehrle admitted downplaying his own performance. “They were putting the ball in play and like I've said before, it's the whole luck thing.
“If this was our park or some other parks I might have been out of there in the third because there were balls that were home runs in different (parks). I made some pitches, made some outs, made mistakes. If I go out next start and have the same stuff, I probably won't be as fortunate.”
If it sounds like Buehrle was being excessively hard on himself, he also realizes in a positive light that he has been on a significant roll as the brightest light in the Jays rotation since the end of April. April has never been his month.
“When you're making your pitches and hitting locations, I'm not saying I expect outs, but that's when you're on your game and you want guys to put the ball in play,” he said. “Early in the season I was making mistakes and they weren't missing them. They were making me pay. There's a lot of luck that's involved in this game. But, again, you've got to be good. You've got to make your pitches. Over 50-percent, maybe 70-percent is luck and you have to have it on your side.”
After opening the season with a 1-3 record in 10 starts, Buehrle is now 6-4 in his last 12 outings. He has won his last three starts vs. the A's, allowing just six earned runs in his last 30.1 innings against Oakland, dating back to '11 when he was with the White Sox.
After seven innings and 93 pitches, with the ball being hit hard in his final frame, reliever Steve Delabar pitched a rare perfect inning, striking out three A's, Adam Rosales, Coco Crisp and Chris Young, on the minimum total of nine pitches. Just one pitch was fouled.
“I came off the field and I just laughed,” Delabar said. “I was like, I can't believe that just happened. I was like, is it really that easy? Getting loose here is tough. There's not much room to move around down there and then just getting up going. It's tough to get going, get loose. I got up and got in there and felt good and just executed my pitches.”
Delabar becomes the first Jays pitcher to accompish the feat. The last pitcher to pull off the three Ks on nine pitches trick was Ivan Nova of the Yankees against the Mets on May 29, 2013. Coincidentally, inside the visitors clubhouse, Juan Perez has the locker next to Delabar's. Perez on July 8, 2011 with the Phillies also fanned three Braves on nine pitches.
“That kind of stuff is silly,” Delabar said of having two of the last five pitchers to do it, side-by-side. “It's pretty cool to do. I came in and said I don't think I've ever done that in my life and I just did it in a big-league game. It's crazy. I'm just looking to be in there and get guys out and to do it in nine pitches and strike them all out is crazy.”
The Jays opened the scoring in the first inning against righthander Dan Straily, as Jose Bautista clubbed his 25th home run of the season crashing off the out-of-town scoreboard in left. It was the fifth homer in his last 12 games and moved him into a tie for fourth in the AL with Adam Dunn of the White Sox.
The Jays added a second run in the fourth inning. Edwin Encarnacion and Adam Lind opened with back-to-back singles. When Colby Rasmus singled to left, third-base coach Luis Rivera conservatively attempted to hold Encarnacion at third, but when Yoenis Cespedes bobbled the ball, he ran through the stop and scored without drawing a throw.
In the fifth, the Jays tapped into an unlikely power source, as left fielder Emilio Bonifacio smashed a Straily fastball deep into the stands above the fence in right-centre. It was the third homer for Bonifacio who was filling in for a still hobbled Melky Cabrera.
“He's got some pop in his bat for a little guy,” manager John Gibbons said. “He really does. He played good defence out of left. It's come to the situation where he's been the odd man out. Izturis has taken over at second. Melky wasn't playing. We gave him that opportunity tonight and he did a nice job for us. There's so much more in there than we've all seen.
Later in the fifth, the usually solid defensively A's threw the ball around with no purpose. Adam Rosales feed to second base sailed past Jed Lowrie allowing Jose Reyes to score all the way from first base. After Lind walked, Rasmus ripped an RBI single to right off reliever Dan Otero. Rasmus in his last 19 games, since July 7, is batting .389 with 28 hits in 72 at-bats, 11 extra-base hits and 10 RBIs.
In the course of Tuesday's game, the A's announced they had acquired infielder Alberto Callaspo from the Angels for Triple-A infielder Grant Green. The Jays and all major-league teams have until Wednesday at 4:00 p.m. to complete any trades without waivers.