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Athletics vs. Blue Jays: Fielding, Balfour Cost A's Road Victory

The Oakland Athletics first road trip of the season got off to a rocky start as they lost to the Toronto Blue Jays 7-6 in ten innings. A’s relief pitcher Grant Balfour was given the chance to get a save during Andrew Bailey’s absence but he gave up a walk-off home run to Blue Jays short stop Yunel Escobar.

The A’s got off to a very strong start in the game and appeared set to reverse last season’s road struggles. The A’s jumped all over Jo-Jo Reyes, tagging him for five runs in the first four innings. The five runs appeared to be more than enough as Brandon McCarthy was pitching lights-out baseball through five innings. However, things began to unravel in the sixth as the A’s gave up four runs on three hits and three errors. Kevin Kouzmanoff was responsible for two of those errors as his uncharacteristic poor play has continued from the weekend.

The next three innings were fairly blemish-free as McCarthy settled down and finished eight innings in spite of the ugly sixth. He had several sub-ten pitch innings and left the game after 89 pitches through eight. The Blue Jays bullpen was equally strong in relief of Reyes as they threw 5 2/3 innings of shutout ball, holding the A’s to two hits and two walks.

In the top of the tenth, Josh Willingham continued his solid start for the A’s with a no-doubt blast to the second deck in left field, giving the A’s a 6-5 lead. Oakland put two men on with two out but stranded them on a Cliff Pennington strikeout. Those insurance runs proved needed in the bottom half of the frame. The A’s appear to be going with a bullpen by committee (or simply by situation) as Grant Balfour was given the save opportunity. He had two strikes on Rajai Davis to lead off the inning but gave up a single. Yunel Escobar then went opposite field with a walk-off homerun to end the game.