Toronto's Lourdes Gurriel Jr. leads attack as the Blue Jays edge Athletics 4-3

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TORONTO — When outfielder Teoscar Hernandez was lost to the 10-day disabled list with a left oblique strain last week, the Toronto Blue Jays needed Lourdes Gurriel Jr. to step up and supply offence in the clean-spot in the batting order.

Gurriel continued to produce in the Blue Jays 4-3 rubber-match victory against the Oakland Athletics on Sunday. He knocked in a run with an opening-inning sacrifice fly, doubled in the third and singled in the fifth to score twice in a 3-for-4 afternoon.

It was Gurriel's third straight multi-hit outing since the Blue Jays arrived home with Hernandez on the shelf, and it's essential the left-fielder continues to hit in the spot behind Toronto slugger Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

"It's pretty big that he gets hot," Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said. "It's been amazing what he's doing right now.

"Right now, he's doing the job to make sure Vladdy sees some pitches."

Guerrero, who smacked five home runs in his first eight outings, struck out three times in his four at-bats before 27,490 at Rogers Centre. However, the off-game didn't concern Montoyo.

"He's one of those guys you can have fun with," Montoyo said when asked if he talks to Guerrero after the frustration he exhibited with his third strikeout on Sunday.

"I can ask him, 'do you want me to pinch-hit for you?'"

The Blue Jays (6-4) hit the 10-game mark with their best start since winning six of 10 in 2018. While Toronto has an explosive offence, their pitching and defence have been on display in the first 10 games.

Starter Alek Manoah and closer Jordan Romano have been the bright spots on the mound. Manoah (2-0) allowed two runs on four hits and struck out six in his six innings.

The Blue Jays have won his last 10 starts and have gone 18-4 in his young career.

"It's pretty cool," Manoah said. "I want the guys to feel I'm giving it my all, and hopefully, they can feed off my energy."

Romano coaxed three fly ball outs in the four batters he faced for his league-leading sixth save. He has converted 29 straight save opportunities, a club record.

"I met his family," Montoyo said. "His dad told me he's nervous when [his son] is on the mound. I told him, 'I'm not.'"

The Blue Jays scored a run in each of the first three innings to take a 3-0 lead. The Athletics (5-5) received a homer from catcher Stephen Vogt to straightaway centre field in the fifth and scored another later in the inning.

Toronto got a run back in the bottom of the fifth when Gurriel singled and then scored on a throwing error from Oakland shortstop Kevin Smith. Oakland scored again in the eighth with a sacrifice fly from first baseman Seth Brown.

BUCK'S BAD NEWS

Blue Jays veteran broadcaster Buck Martinez announced before the game he had been diagnosed with cancer. As a result, he will stop calling games for a while.

The 73-year-old former Blue Jays catcher and manager relayed his health news through Sportnet's Twitter account.

"I've been so honoured and privileged to have the support of Blue Jays fans, colleagues, staff and players since I arrived here in 1981, and that continued support through this next challenge means the world to me," Martinez said.

"I hope to rejoin my Sportsnet teammates for the stretch run later this season, but in the meantime, I will be watching from the sidelines as I fight the good fight."

RYU ON DL

Toronto placed starter Hyun Jin Ryu on the 10-day injured list with left forearm inflammation. Ryan Borucki (hamstring) was reinstated to take Ryu's place on the roster.

UP NEXT

Toronto has Monday off before beginning a three-game set at Fenway Park against the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday. The Blue Jays' probable pitchers are lefty Yusei Kikuchi (0-1, 5.40 ERA) in the opener, followed by right-handers Jose Berrios (0-0, 11.81) and Kevin Gausman (0-1, 4.22).

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 17, 2022.

Tim Wharnsby, The Canadian Press

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