At least Hyun Jin Ryu was able to complete four innings.
Compared to his season debut last Sunday in the series finale against visiting Texas, yesterday’s outing might be viewed as a step in the right direction.
The problem is that Ryu had more missteps.
On this day, the biggest mistake was served up by Julian Merryweather, who was torched by Cristian Pache for a two-run blast in the top of the ninth inning as the A’s held on for a 7-5 win to even the three-game series.
The rubber match will be played Sunday.
Ryu’s Saturday start began inauspiciously by tossing three straight balls.
He then settled down and pitched as though he had rediscovered his form.
It was fleeting, to say the least.
Oakland would score five runs, all earned, produce six hits, including one long ball, in Ryu’s 53-pitch outing.
Against the Rangers, who came back from a 6-1 hole to clip the Jays 12-6, Ryu couldn’t get out of the fourth inning after he retired one batter.
So meticulous in how he prepares for each start, Ryu has looked hopeless in his two starts to begin the season.
No one is reaching for the panic button, at least not yet, but clearly the crafty lefty needs to find his form.
In 7.1 innings, Ryu has yielded 12 hits and given up 11 earned runs.
Matt Chapman made the game interesting when he clubbed a first-pitch, two-run home run in the sixth inning, his second long ball as a Blue Jay following his three-run blast against the Rangers, his first hit with his new team.
Saturday’s slam was his first against his former team.
Up stepped Zach Collins, who drilled a ball over the right-field fence as the game was suddenly tied, 5-5, to erase a 5-1 deficit.
It was Collins’ third hit of the game to produce his second multi-hit game in a row.
Following a Santiago Espinal single, the A’s had seen enough of reliever Domingo Acevedo, who would be replaced by Justin Grimm.
Bradley Zimmer came to the plate with two out and runners at first and second.
He struck out, but the Jays used the three-run sixth to strike back.
Zimmer would make amends in Oakland’s next at-bats by producing a great diving catch featuring Zimmer going to his right, arguably the best outfield catch by the Jays this season.
The Jays were able to compensate for Ryu’s rough outing because of their offence and pen, which would see Trent Thornton and David Phelps combine to yield one hit in three innings.
Yimi Garcia began the eighth inning and surrendered back-to-back walks with one out.
Oakland pulled off a double-steal to put runners at second and third.
Sean Murphy worked a 3-1 count.
Garcia forced a full count and then produced a strike out on a called strike.
Tony Kemp then lined out to first as the Jays escaped the inning unscathed.
Once Oakland retook the lead in its top half of the ninth, the A’s turned to Lou Trivino to seal the deal.
Trivino would walk Alejandro Kirk, who would be replaced for pinch runner Gosuke Katoh.
Trivino retired Espinal and then faced pinch hitter George Springer, who batted for Zimmer.
Springer struck out swinging.
Raimel Tapia then struck out to end the game.
BO’S MENTAL MISCUE
For those inclined to keep score, the numbers 6-3 would be penciled in for Oakland’s top half of the inning, a frame that would see the visitors plate three runs to erase a 1-0 deficit.
Bo Bichette fielded the ball at short and threw to first to record the inning’s final out.
What wasn’t recorded was his slight hesitation before he ultimately threw to first base.
For some reason, Bichette looked at third hoping, ostensibly, to record an out.
There were two outs and the routine play was for Bichette to simply make a basic throw to first and not even worry about the runner.
In Friday’s series opener, Bichette was picked off at first.
A night earlier in the series finale in the Bronx, Chapman was doubled up at first following a soft liner to right to end the game in a 3-0 Yankees win.
Mental errors, as opposed to physical blunders, aren’t reflected in boxscores, but they nonetheless surface.
CENTRE OF ATTENTION
Zimmer made his first start as a Blue Jay in centre field.
The Jays had Tapia lead off.
Tapia looked like Springer in the lead-off spot by stroking a double to right field.
He would later score the game’s first run on a Vlad Jr. fielder’s choice.
Vlad Jr. was tagged out at second attempting to steal a base.
It’s obvious for anyone to see how Vlad Jr. is quicker on the base paths and out of the batter’s box.
On his next at-bat, he nearly beat out an infield hit.
Toronto went with Collins at DH batting in the No. 6 hole.
In his first at-bat, Collins hit a single to right field.
Collins was behind the plate Friday night and recorded his first multi-hit game as a Blue Jay.
He also drove in a run in Toronto’s 4-1 win.
Collins came to plate Saturday with two on and one out with the Jays trailing by four runs in the home half of the fourth.
He had a great at-bat against A’s starter Paul Blackburn before Collins lifted a fly ball to left for a single that scored Lourdes Gurriel Jr.
Kirk then grounded into an inning-ending double play.