May 23, 2014 ISN – TORONTO — Steve Tolleson hit a two-run homer while Liam Hendriks pitched 5 2/3 strong innings, as the Blue Jays extended their winning streak to four games with a 3-2 victory over the Athletics on Friday night at Rogers Centre.
The game was a highly anticipated matchup between a pair of teams that are leading their respective divisions. Oakland entered with the league’s top offense and the best record in the Major Leagues after winning 11 of its past 13 games and was looking to carry that momentum into the series opener.
For the Blue Jays, this series is at least a small test to see how far they have come over the past couple of weeks. Toronto entered with a one-game lead over the Yankees in the American League East, which marked the first time since 2009 that Toronto was in first place this late into a season.
The early results from a Toronto perspective were positive. Hendriks, who was called up from Triple-A Buffalo prior to the game, pitched into the sixth inning and allowed one run. Oakland hit a number of fly balls to the warning track, but each time came up short of doing damage, with the exception of a solo homer by Brandon Moss in the fourth.
Hendriks’ biggest challenge came in the fifth. He retired two of the first three batters he faced before hitting Kyle Blanks and walking Coco Crisp to load the bases. Jed Lowrie then crushed a 1-0 fastball from Hendriks and sent it deep to right-center field, but the ball hung up just long enough to be caught by Kevin Pillar for the third out.
The pitching line could have been a lot different if a couple more of Oakland’s fly balls traveled a bit further, but overall, it was a success. The 25-year-old allowed three hits with three walks, which was the same amount he had in 48 2/3 innings with Triple-A Buffalo this season. It was Hendriks’ first victory at the Major League level since he defeated the Rangers on Aug. 30 while still a member of the Twins.
Toronto got its offensive spark in the second inning on a rare display of power from Tolleson. Toronto’s second baseman got ahead in the count, 3-1, and lifted a 91-mph fastball from left-hander Scott Kazmir over the wall in left for a two-run shot. It was Tolleson’s first homer of the season and his fourth in 158 career at-bats.
The Blue Jays’ potent offense continues to be led by a high number of home runs. Toronto has gone deep at least once in all but five of its past 30 games and have out-homered the opposition 50-27 over that span. The Blue Jays lead the Major Leagues in home runs with 68 and have 36 during the month of May alone.
Toronto’s other run came in the third when Pillar led off with a double down the right-field line. He advanced to third when Kazmir attempted a pickoff, even though nobody was covering second base. Kazmir’s throw went into center field and allowed Pillar to move up, before he scored on a grounder by Jose Reyes.
Oakland got one run back in the eighth, but Casey Janssen entered in the ninth to record his sixth save in as many attempts this season. Toronto has won nine of its past 11 games and 14 of 19 dating back to May 4.