Oakland’s Jerry Blevins replaced Grant Balfour in a 6-5 game with runners at the corners and no outs against the Angels on Tuesday night. He promptly struck out Kendrys Morales and induced a double-play ball from Howie Kendrick to give the A’s a win.
The Angels were attempting to come back from 6-3 down in the ninth when Chris Iannetta and Mike Trout started the frame with walks. Torii Hunter and Albert Pujols followed with a pair of RBI singles, at which point A’s manager Bob Melvin removed Balfour.
The left-handed Blevins was the choice to take over, even though Morales is a switch-hitter and Kendrick bats righty. He got the job done in a big way for his second career save in 205 appearances. His other save came in 2010 against the Rays.
For Kendrick, it was the 23rd double play grounded into of the season. He’s tied with Michael Young for second in the AL, three behind Miguel Cabrera.
The A’s have taken the first two in a four-game series in Anaheim to move 4 1/2 games ahead of the Angels in the AL West. At 81-60, they have the second best record in the AL, two games ahead of the Yankees and Orioles.
Yankees first baseman Greg Bird gave his team tons of confidence to hand him the everyday job at first base to start the 2017 regular season, batting .451/.556/1.098 with eight home runs in 51 spring at-bats. But he’s followed that up by hitting .107/.254/.214 through the first month of the regular season.
GM Brian Cashman doesn’t have any intent to demote Bird back to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports. Cashman said, “It’s not even an option for me in my mind right now, at all.”
Bird didn’t start Sunday’s game against the Orioles, a 7-4 loss in 11 innings. Lefty Wade Miley started for the Orioles, prompting manager Joe Girardi to put Chris Carter into the lineup at first base. If Bird isn’t able to figure things out, Carter might have an increased role on the team.
Rays starter Chris Archer threw his first pitch to Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista behind the slugger’s back with one out in the first inning of Sunday afternoon’s game in Toronto. Bautista and Archer then had a staredown. Home plate umpire Jim Wolf issued warnings to both teams. Bautista ultimately flied out to right field and he appeared to have a quick word with Archer on his way back to the dugout.
Archer could have been exacting revenge — euphemistically known as “protecting his teammate” — because Jays reliever Joe Biagini hit Rays outfielder Steven Souza in the seventh inning of Saturday’s game. Souza was forced to leave the game and underwent an X-ray, which came back negative. He was held out of Sunday’s lineup. Biagini’s pitch did not appear to be intentional.
The Jays won Sunday’s contest 3-1 with no further incident. The two clubs meet again in Tampa for a three-game series starting on May 5, so we’ll see if Sunday was the last of the bad blood between them.