OAKLAND -- If this was some B movie, Brett Cecil would have taken a solid punch to the jaw, picked himself up and said something like, “I needed that.”
In real life, the wake-up call was delivered by Oakland’s Adam Kennedy, who crashed a two-out, second-inning, three-run double to erase a Blue Jay 3-0 lead and give Oakland a 4-3 advantage.
The response? Cecil dusted himself off and proceeded to erase the next 15 batters he faced on the way to a 6-5 Blue Jay win in front of a sell-out crowd of 35,067 on Rickey Henderson Night at the Oakland Coliseum.
Aaron Hill provided the offensive spark for Toronto, knocking in four runs with a single and a three-run home run, his 25th of the season. Hill, who has never hit more than 17 homers in a season, is now just one off the American League lead shared by Mark Teixeira, Carlos Pena and Justin Morneau.
“Oh, stop it,” aid Hill when his name was mentioned next to those sluggers.
“That’s a whole different category. Those guys are proven home run hitters. I’m just getting lucky. I keep trying to hit line drives and when they go out, I’ll take them every time.”
Lyle Overbay also homered for Toronto.
After the Kennedy double, Cecil did not allow another baserunner until Mark Ellis’ linedrive to right shorthopped rightfielder Alex Rios’ glove for a single.
The Blue Jays staked Cecil to a 3-0 lead in the second inning. Overbay led off with his 11th home run over the wall in left centre. Later on, Raul Chavez delivered Vernon Wells from second with an RBI single and then Hill plated newcomer Edwin Encarnacion with the third run in what turned out to be a bat-around inning.
The Athletics came right back in the next half-inning and touched up Cecil for four runs of their own to take the lead. After getting a leadoff groundball out, Cecil allowed four consecutive baserunners. Tommy Everidge and Bob Crosby singled, Mark Ellis doubled home a run and Mark Ellis walked. Cecil got another out but Adam Kennedy cleared the bases with a three-run double.
From there, the A’s didn’t get another baserunner until there were two out in the seventh.
“I had a game like that down in Triple A,” said Cecil afterward. “It just felt like I pitched two different games. First and second inning, gave up four runs. Stuff started working and I just felt like a totally different pitcher.”
“He was a little fastball-happy and I think he started to mix his pitches a little more,” said manager Cito Gaston.
In Toronto’s fourth inning, Chavez doubled with one out and then Marco Scutaro, still a fan favorite in Oakland, walked to set the table for Hill’s homer, a 380-foot, three-run clout that got the Blue Jays healthy in a hurry.
Cecil left after the seventh inning with 100 pitches under his belt. Brandon League got the A’s in order in the eighth and Scott Downs got the first out of the ninth before the A’s rallied. Cust rattled a single off Downs and then Everidge doubled into the right field corner to put runners at second and third. Downs had tweaked his chronic ankle injury and had to come out of the game.
With Jason Frasor now on the hot-seat, Cust scored on a groundout back to the pitcher. With the tying run 90 feet away Frasor then got the final out of the game for a hard-earned save.