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Donaldson delivers in 9th to lift Jays, sting A's

July 17, 2016

OAKLAND -- Josh Donaldson squandered an opportunity to deliver a crushing blow to the A's in the seventh inning Sunday, flying out with two runners on to end the inning. He made the most of a second chance against his former team when he came to the plate in the

OAKLAND -- Josh Donaldson squandered an opportunity to deliver a crushing blow to the A's in the seventh inning Sunday, flying out with two runners on to end the inning. He made the most of a second chance against his former team when he came to the plate in the ninth.
Donaldson's go-ahead two-run double helped the Blue Jays claim a 5-3 win and avoid a three-game sweep, earning him a chorus of "MVP" chants from a strong Toronto contingent at the Coliseum. The reigning American League MVP is hitting .306 in 12 games versus Oakland since being traded in 2014, and has reached base in 22 straight games.
"You never want to want to lose three in a row, no matter who you're playing," Donaldson said. "The fact of the matter is we were able to get the 'W' today, and to get some momentum going into Arizona is good."

Sunday was highlighted by several bizarre occurrences. Toronto's ninth fittingly began on a weak single against the shift by Justin Smoak. Junior Lake followed with a single, setting up Donaldson, who handed A's reliever John Axford a loss in his third appearance in three days.
It was a game that bruised and battered pitchers on both sides.
The A's needed three pitchers to get through the first two innings. Starter Rich Hill was removed with a blister on his left middle finger after throwing just five pitches and his replacement, Andrew Triggs, departed at the end of the inning with a left calf contusion after being struck by a line drive. Oakland called on Tuesday's scheduled starter, Sean Manaea, who pitched five innings of emergency relief and surrendered a two-run homer to Troy Tulowitzki in the fourth.
"It's tough to ask a kid to do something like that, too," said A's manager Bob Melvin, adding Ryan Madson and Ryan Dull were unavailable Sunday. "We were going to limit his pitches. We just didn't have enough to get through the game, bullpen-wise."

By those standards, Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ lucked out, remaining in the game despite being hit by two liners as well, including one in the sixth by Josh Reddick. Happ allowed the ensuing two batters, Danny Valencia and Khris Davis, to reach before being replaced by Jesse Chavez, setting up a game-tying two-run double by Yonder Alonso to make it 3-3.
The great Lake: As Toronto's fourth outfielder, Lake does not receive a lot of playing time, but he got a rare start and made the most of it. Smoak hit a one-out single in the ninth to get the Blue Jays' rally started, and Lake came through with a single up the middle, which replays showed hit the bat twice. That set the table for Donaldson, who delivered the go-ahead double with a shot down the left-field line. Prior to Donaldson's at-bat, Toronto was hitting just 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
"It's nice to be back here," Donaldson said. "This is where it all started for me, so it's always nice to see. There's a few faces over there that I remember, but it's nice to be able to see the fans and be able to play out here."

Manaea makes do: The loss of Hill and Triggs put a strain on the A's bullpen, especially considering it was without Madson and Dull, their two most effective relievers recently. Manaea managed to give Oakland five strong innings despite throwing a bullpen session Saturday and being on a pitch count of roughly 65. It was his first career relief appearance as a professional, and the rookie said he'd done it only once in college. More >
"I didn't want to put the bullpen in that position to have to cover an entire game," Hill said. This is something we'll let heal up and keep moving forward."

Tulo time: Toronto carried a 1-0 lead into the fourth inning when Tulowitzki gave his club some breathing room with a two-run shot to center field. According to Statcast™, Tulowitzki's 16th homer of the season was projected to travel 414 feet and left his bat at 100 mph. The veteran shortstop now has eight home runs and 23 RBIs over his previous 21 games.

Alonso answers the call: Alonso didn't start against the lefty Happ but was summoned with two outs and two runners on in the sixth to pinch-hit for DH Billy Butler. Alonso delivered against Chavez, a former A's pitcher, lining a two-run double to the gap in left-center to tie it in the sixth. Alonso is now hitting .319 over his last 37 games after a slow start to the season. Marcus Semien also homered in the sixth, marking the third straight game Oakland scored three or more runs in an inning against Toronto.

"[Josh Thole] told me they were going to bring out the L-screen [used during batting practice] for me if I went out for the next inning." -- Happ, on getting hit by a batted ball twice Sunday

• Hill became the first A's pitcher since 1913 to record having faced zero batters in a starting assignment.
• The Blue Jays have scored 199 runs in 31 games since June 11, which is an average of 6.42 runs per game.
Blue Jays: Toronto will enjoy an off-day on Monday before the club opens up a two-game series against the D-backs on Tuesday night at Chase Field. Right-hander Aaron Sanchez (9-1, 3.36 ERA) will get the call in the series opener with first pitch scheduled for 9:40 p.m. ET. Arizona will counter with right-hander Zack Godley (2-4, 5.28).
Athletics: The A's are scheduled to open a three-game series with the Astros Monday at 7:05 p.m. PT with Kendall Graveman on the mound. Graveman (5-6, 4.37) faced Houston in his most recent start, allowing only two runs over eight innings in the win. He's 4-0 with a 3.40 ERA in his last eight starts.
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Mark Chiarelli is a reporter for based in the Bay Area and covered the A's on Sunday.

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.