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Blue Jays break out bats, bare hands vs. A's

Galvis makes incredible grab; Gaviglio unhittable after Shoemaker injury
@goodforball
April 20, 2019

OAKLAND -- Typically, a decision as lopsided as the Blue Jays’ 10-1 triumph Saturday over the Oakland A’s wouldn’t be a source of extensive discussion. This game was different, however. A season-best offensive outburst included a heartwarming family tale. Shortstop Freddy Galvis's remarkable barehand grab of a popup punctuated the

OAKLAND -- Typically, a decision as lopsided as the Blue Jays’ 10-1 triumph Saturday over the Oakland A’s wouldn’t be a source of extensive discussion.

This game was different, however. A season-best offensive outburst included a heartwarming family tale. Shortstop Freddy Galvis's remarkable barehand grab of a popup punctuated the Blue Jays’ third victory in a row. And Matt Shoemaker’s left knee sprain prompted concern before Sam Gaviglio’s four innings of perfect relief generated hope.

Here’s a breakdown of what made this game noteworthy:

Hit parade

The Blue Jays established season single-game highs for runs, hits, extra-base hits and total bases while matching a 2019 best with three home runs. Rowdy Tellez and Brandon Drury hit back-to-back homers in a five-run fourth inning, and Justin Smoak belted a sixth-inning two-run shot to put the game out of reach.

The game was particularly meaningful for Tellez, who grew up in nearby Sacramento. A whopping 300 relatives and friends were in the stands to cheer him on -- including his grandmother, Frances, who had never seen him play.

“That was the biggest part for me,” Tellez said. ”It was kind of a fairytale moment being able to do it in front of family and friends.”

No glove, no problem

Galvis provided a fielding gem that ought to receive heavy rotation in highlight videos for years to come when he dashed into left field to snare Josh Phegley’s fly ball with his bare right hand.

Galvis grabbed the ball while running at close to full speed with his back to home plate. He explained that the afternoon and the high sky increased the play’s difficulty.

“I just reacted to the ball, saw it on my left side and tried to look for the left fielder [Teoscar Hernandez] to see where he was. When I looked up again to see where the ball was, it was on my right side.”

Galvis said that he made similar barehanded grabs while growing up in Venezuela -- largely because he played without a glove.

“That was awesome,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said. “That’s all I can say, because I’m an infielder, or an ex-infielder. That’s fun to watch.”

Shoemaker goes down in rundown

Shoemaker, Toronto’s top starter with a 3-0 record and a 1.75 ERA entering Saturday, blanked Oakland for three innings and appeared to make his life easier by trapping Matt Chapman off first base with a pickoff throw. But the Blue Jays couldn’t corral Chapman as quickly as they wanted to, prompting Shoemaker to join the defenders in the rundown. Shoemaker made the inning-ending tag, but as he did so, his left leg either buckled or planted itself in some loose turf.

Shoemaker, who did not speak to reporters, is expected to undergo an MRI to determine the extent of the injury, which was initially announced as a left knee sprain.

Montoyo acknowledged that Shoemaker violated a fundamental rule by joining the rundown. “You never want to see the pitcher involved,” Montoyo said. But, he added, “[Shoemaker’s] a gamer. He got in there because he wanted to get the out.”

Gaviglio shines in relief

Following Shoemaker's exit, Gaviglio entered and positioned himself as a viable option to spell Shoemaker in Toronto’s starting rotation if necessary. “That’s one of the reasons that he pitched four innings,” Montoyo said.

Gaviglio, who ranked second among Blue Jays pitchers with 24 starts last year, sounded ready to return to that role if needed. “Whatever they tell me to do, I’ll do my job,” he said after the longest relief outing of his career.

But Gaviglio lamented the circumstances that could force him to start. “It would be a very big loss,” Gaviglio said, regarding the chances of Shoemaker being sidelined. "He’s been strong every outing.”

Chris Haft has covered the Major Leagues since 1991 and has worked for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @goodforball.