No clutch heroics in Jays win

Toronto Blue Jays base runner Rajai Davis slides safe into home plate ahead of Oakland Athletics...

Toronto Blue Jays base runner Rajai Davis slides safe into home plate ahead of Oakland Athletics catcher Derek Norris during the first inning of their baseball game in Oakland August 5, 2012. (Beck Diefenbach/REUTERS)

MIKE RUTSEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:26 PM ET

OAKLAND - There were no ninth-inning heroics this game.

No need.

For the first time in the past three games, a Blue Jay didn’t whack a game-tying home run in the last frame.

Thanks to the some clutch hitting by veterans and a solid outing from starter Aaron Laffey, the Jays registered a 6-5 victory Sunday afternoon to split the four-game series against the Oakland Athletics.

After being swept in three at Seattle and dropping the opening two in California, the Jays had the look of a team that was headed for the proverbial toilet.

On Saturday, however, the Jays pulled the fat from the fire thanks to David Cooper’s home run in the ninth and on Sunday they were sparked by a two-run bomb by Edwin Encarnacion in the fourth, one of 12 hits they posted.

Laffey, meanwhile, righted himself after allowing four runs over the first three innings as he retired 11 of the final 12 batters he faced to get through the sixth.

The homer by Encarnacion, his 29th, was the key as it got the Jays to within a run after the Athletics had taken a 4-1 lead.

“It was very big,” Encarnacion said of his homerun and how it lifted his team. “We’ve been struggling the last couple of games. We haven’t been hitting the ball good. So with that homer everybody could have a little bit more emotion and we started swinging better.”

It was also key that Escobar could come through with his two-run single after the Athletics walked Encarnacion with first base open.

“I’m very happy because one of my teammates produced behind me,” Encarnacion said.

The rebuilt bullpen has also been a tremendous plus in the past two victories. Brandon Lyon allowed one run in the seventh but the combination of Aaron Loup and Steve Delabar blanked the eighth and Casey Janssen came on in the ninth to nail down his 14th save.

With a runner on first and one out, Jemile Weeks sliced a line drive down towards third but it was gloved by Yan Gomes who fired across to first to nail Eric Sogard for the double play to end the game.

“Aaron Laffey did his job — he worked deeper into the game (six innings) and our bullpen once again pitched some solid baseball for us,” manager John Farrell said. “The biggest thing is given how much we’ve had to pitch out of the ’pen with the extra-inning games the last two days, he (Laffey) gave some guys some rest and the guys that were available ended up getting in the game today.”

Laffey righted himself after allowing four runs over the first three innings. The big blow being a three-run homer by Josh Reddick in the third. But Laffey retired 10 of the final 12 batters he faced to get through to the sixth.

The Jays now head to Tampa Bay to open a three-game series Tuesday, where it is expected that third baseman Brett Lawrie and centre fielder Colby Rasmus will be able to return to the lineup.

NO LAUGHING MATTER

OF Moises Sierra was in the lineup Sunday, making the start in right field. In his brief five-game stint with the Jays, Sierra is hitting .462 (6-for-13) with two RBIs but heading into Sunday had not impressed the brass with his on-field decisions. The Jays complaint is that when you arrive in the big leagues you had better think like a big leaguer and keep your head in the game at all times.

On two previous occasions, while base-running, he did not appear to have realized there were two outs in the inning.

“I can tell you there’s a lot of conversation that goes on with him because there are some situations that have been overlooked,” manager John Farrell said about Sierra prior to Sunday’s game. “There’s been aggressiveness on his part which has been a positive. But there’s some game situations that need to be addressed and will continue to be addressed … there’s got to be a greater attention to detail on his part.”

When it was suggested that perhaps it was part of Sierra’s style, Farrell wasn’t buying it.

“There’s a difference between style and awareness,” Farrell said. “The awareness has got to continually be stressed and there has to be greater attention to the game situation at hand. It’s not to be critical but the days of laughing about something when something has not gone right (such as when Sierra ran through Brian Butterfield’s stop sign at third last Tuesday in Seattle) are over.

“He’s in the big leagues and there’s a certain expectation.”


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