OAKLAND, Calif. — Stephen Vogt cherished going to San Francisco Giants games on July 4 or Mother’s Day as a kid coming from Central California, and now he really appreciates playing on special holidays.
On Monday, the 37-year-old Vogt changed his walk-up music to “Born in the U.S.A.” by Bruce Springsteen and then swung for the fences.
“Just thankful for being born in the USA. It’s kind of corny. It’s always special to play on holidays but July 4th is always such a great day. I’m just thankful for that,” Vogt said. “There was a lot of memories of the good times. A packed crowd at the Coliseum – there’s no better place to play major league baseball than the Coliseum packed with fans. Clearly we fed off it tonight.”
Vogt’s family had just arrived for the summer, too, and he treated them to a home run and sacrifice fly on the Fourth of July as the Oakland Athletics beat the Toronto Blue Jays 5-1 on Monday night.
“I’ll say he was born in the USA, that’s for sure,” winning pitcher Cole Irvin said. “I knew he was going to hit one today.”
Ramon Laureano also went deep and Elvis Andrus had an early two-run double to back Irvin’s gem for the A’s, who drew a season-high 24,403 fans on fireworks night.
Some of them chanted “We believe in Stephen Vogt!” in a chorus reminiscent of cheers that became popular during the veteran catcher’s first stint with the club that included some unexpected playoff heroics.
“The atmosphere is how it used to be,” said Vogt’s proud wife, Alyssa.
Irvin retired his first 11 batters before Vladimir Guerrero Jr. doubled in the fourth and Alejandro Kirk followed with a run-scoring single. A’s third baseman Vimael Machin then lunged to his right and snared a sharp grounder by Teoscar Hernandez to prevent more damage.
Irvin (3-6) struck out four and didn’t walk a batter over a season-best eight innings to earn his first win in nine starts since returning from the injured list May 22. He had been 0-5 during that stretch, with four straight losses.
Vogt did his part – again. In October 2013, he produced a game-winning hit in the playoffs for a 1-0 win against Justin Verlander and the Tigers that sent the best-of-five AL Division Series back to Detroit tied at 1.
Toronto right-hander Alek Manoah (9-3) was tagged for five runs and six hits in 5 2/3 innings. He missed a chance to tie Verlander, now with Houston, and Tony Gonsolin of the Dodgers for the major league lead in wins.
Former A’s star Matt Chapman received a warm ovation when he came to the plate for the first time for Toronto.
Before the game, Chapman returned to Oakland with his new team and found his way to the visitors’ clubhouse, where a picture greeted him in his locker.
He felt some emotion back in the Coliseum after the A’s traded him and Matt Olson in March. The A’s also lost Sean Manaea, Chris Bassitt and Mark Canha last offseason. Manager Bob Melvin left to lead the Padres.
“It’s tough because we were all together, we were all kind of making a run multiple years in a row and then it all happens really fast,” Chapman said. “It’s a big change of gears for everybody over there.”
He’s happy to be in Toronto now – and the Blue Jays are thrilled to have him.
“We love Matt Chapman,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said. “We’ve gotten much better thanks to him.”
Blue Jays: RHP Kevin Gausman, who took a comebacker off his right foot during a 6-2 loss to Tampa Bay in the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader, credits the padding on his cleats for protecting his ankle from serious damage. “I feel like I need to test it before I go out there and try to throw 100 pitches on it,” Gausman said. “You want to be able to test it, but then you also don’t want to do something while you’re testing it to kind of push that back any further.” He played catch and will do so again Tuesday before the Blue Jays determine his status to pitch Friday at Seattle. …. C Danny Jansen (pinkie fracture) was with Triple-A Buffalo on a rehab assignment. … RHP Yimi Garcia (back strain) struck out two in one clean inning at Buffalo.
Athletics: RHP Frankie Montas will undergo an MRI exam Tuesday on his pitching shoulder after he exited Sunday’s series finale at Seattle with inflammation. Manager Mark Kotsay sounded optimistic about Montas – the subject of trade speculation – being ready to take his next turn in the rotation. “Doing great. He doesn’t feel like this is a big issue, so that’s a positive,” Kotsay said. … RHP Dany Jimenez, who went on the 15-day injured list June 21 with a strained pitching shoulder, played catch and is set to begin a throwing progression.
LHP Yusei Kikuchi (3-4, 3.74 ERA) takes the mound for Toronto on Tuesday having gone 1-0 with a 4.20 ERA over three starts vs. Oakland last year. He has a 3.19 ERA in nine career games against the A’s. RHP Adrian Martinez (1-1, 6.30) pitches the middle game of the series for the Athletics.