Bautista, Reyes bash Blue Jays to victory over A's
Right fielder homers, reaches base three times to back Buehrle
TORONTO -- Jose Reyes still isn't 100 percent healthy, but that hasn't made an impact on just how valuable he has been since returning from a right ankle injury.
Toronto's shortstop admitted on Saturday afternoon that he'll likely have to play through a sore ankle for the remainder of the season. It's a less than ideal situation, but something the Blue Jays are more than prepared to deal with in order to keep his bat in the lineup.
Reyes hit what proved to be the game-winning homer in the seventh inning, while Jose Bautista also went deep and Mark Buehrle tossed 5 1/3 strong innings in a 5-4 victory over the A's on Saturday at Rogers Centre.
"It has been bothering me since I came back, but I'm able to play," Reyes said of the ankle. "I don't worry about it when I'm on the field. Whatever happens, happens, but I'm just happy to be on the field helping my ballclub."
Reyes missed more than 2 1/2 months earlier this year after suffering a severely sprained ankle while stealing second base during a game against the Royals on April 12. At the time, he was supposed to be out until after the All-Star break, but the rehab went better than expected and Reyes made it back before the end of June.
The four-time All-Star might not be back to full strength, but the production has been everything the Blue Jays could have hoped for. He is batting .290 (49-for-169) with eight homers, seven doubles, 23 RBIs and six stolen bases in 40 games since returning.
Reyes likely won't feel like his old self until he is able to go through a period of prolonged rest this offseason, but in the meantime he plans on continuing to go out every day and doing whatever he can to spark a struggling Blue Jays roster.
"It's going to get 100 percent in the offseason when I get some rest," Reyes said. "For now, I'm able to play like that, and I'm happy because I missed so much time this year, and I'm glad that I'm on the field again."
Perhaps the biggest surprise of Reyes' season is the amount of power he has displayed. Reyes once had a 19 home run campaign, but that was back in 2006. He already has nine in 50 games this season despite hitting only 11 in 160 games last year.
The 30-year-old was back at it again in the seventh inning against Oakland, when he got a 1-1 changeup from right-hander Ryan Cook and sent it into the right-field seats. That home run extended the Blue Jays lead to 5-3, which proved to be crucial when Oakland rallied in the ninth against closer Casey Janssen and came within one hit of tying the game.
Reyes' power numbers have caught a lot of people off-guard, but Blue Jays manager John Gibbons felt Reyes might go through a bit of a surge because of the rate home runs are being hit at Rogers Centre.
"We knew he had some pop in his bat and then you come into this ballpark, he can hit 20 a year," Gibbons said. "He missed so much time because of the ankle, but in a full season that wouldn't surprise me one bit. He has such a good short, little swing."
Reyes ensured the Blue Jays maintained their late-game lead, but it was Bautista who gave his club a much-needed quick start when he sent a 2-1 offering from Sonny Gray over the wall in straightaway center field for a two-run shot.
Bautista finished 3-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs. That continued a recent surge at the plate for Bautista, who is hitting .500 (15-for-30) with two homers, five RBIs, three doubles and nine runs during an eight-game hitting streak.
The Blue Jays added a run in each of the next two innings. In the second, it was a groundout by Reyes that scored Brett Lawrie from third, and in the following inning, an error by Oakland third baseman Josh Donaldson allowed Bautista to score on an RBI single by Colby Rasmus.
Gray, making the first start of his Major League career, allowed four runs -- two earned -- while walking three and striking out five.
"I thought he threw the ball really well," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "Maybe his command wasn't there early on, but he figured that out. Really, two of the runs we kind of gave them. We could have played a little cleaner and kept those two off the board."
Buehrle wasn't at the top of his game but did enough to help snap Toronto's two-game losing streak. He allowed two runs in the second on a home run by Josh Reddick -- his fourth of the series -- but then settled down. Buehrle didn't allow another run until the sixth, when he allowed the first two batters of the inning to reach before Yoenis Cespedes scored on a sacrifice fly by Nate Freiman.
Toronto's veteran lefty was charged with three runs on seven hits and two walks while striking out five. He has won three straight decisions.
"Typical Buehrle, he gives you a chance every time he goes out there," Gibbons said. "He didn't pitch as long as he has been normally. I just thought at that point he might be getting a little tired. He was up in pitches, they were starting to swing it a little bit."
One final scare for Toronto came in the ninth, when Reddick led off with yet another home run. This time it came off Janssen, and the A's then proceeded to put two runners on with nobody out but were able to escape the jam.
The turning point in the final inning came when Janssen fielded a bunt by Stephen Vogt and got the forceout at third base to keep the tying run on second. It wasn't pretty, but Janssen secured his 21st save of the season and his third of the month.
"I think this was one of the more satisfying [saves] I've had this year," Janssen said. "I didn't draw it up that way, leadoff homer and then the first two guys on. Your back is up against the wall."