OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Former Athletics ace Chris Bassitt allowed one run in eight strong innings and the Toronto Blue Jays took sole possession of the third AL wild card spot with a 7-1 win over Oakland on Tuesday night.
Toronto’s fifth win in six games moved the Blue Jays past the Rangers in the crowded AL playoff race. Texas lost to Houston 14-1 earlier in the day.
“We’re showing a lot of maturity behind the scenes of not chasing a 3½ game deficit within one game,” Bassitt said. “Just concentrate on ourselves and win every series. If we win every series the rest of the way, we’re going to be world champions. That’s the way it is.”
The Blue Jays did it behind plenty of offense and a superb outing from Bassitt (14-7), who was 30-24 over six seasons with the A’s and was an All-Star in his final season with Oakland in 2021. The 6-foot-5 right-hander allowed seven hits and didn’t walk anyone while striking out seven.
Despite his history with the A’s, Bassitt said he didn’t have any added motivation other than trying to keep Toronto in the playoff hunt.
“I would say it’s more business as usual,” Bassott said. “Obviously I have a lot of friends from the staff (in Oakland) but I didn’t play with that many guys that are on this team anymore. So there’s no real adrenaline when it comes to that.”
The A’s traded Bassitt to the Mets on March 12, 2022 before the right-hander signed with the Blue Jays as a free agent nine months later.
“He’s been this guy for a while,” Blue Jays manager John Schneider said. “He’s had some huge games for us, another one tonight.”
Bowden Francis recorded three consecutive strikeouts in the ninth for Toronto in front of another small crowd of 4,751 at the Oakland Coliseum.
Kevin Kiermaier hit an RBI single to break a scoreless tie as part of a six-run seventh inning for Toronto after Oakland reliever Zach Neal (1-1) walked the bases loaded.
George Springer followed with a two-run single and Whit Merrifield added a sacrifice fly. Cavan Biggio drew a bases-loaded walk, his second free pass of the inning, to force in a run and make it 5-0.
Neal, who retired one batter in relief after starter Ken Waldichuk pitched six scoreless innings, suffered his first loss since Sept. 2, 2016 against the Red Sox.
Kiermaier finished with three hits and two RBIs for Toronto. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. singled and has reached base in his last 21 games, the longest active streak in the majors.
It’s all coming together at the right time for the Blue Jays, winners in seven of the last 10 games. That’s rewarding to a team many had written off not long ago.
“They’re all going to be big games,” Schneider said. “Really, really proud of the way that they’ve kind of come together and kind of embraced an all-hands-on-deck approach.”
Zack Gelof and Seth Brown each had two hits for the last-place A’s. Jordan Diaz drove in the team’s only run with a two-out single off Bassitt in the seventh.
Waldichuk had one of his most efficient starts of the season but left without a decision for his sixth consecutive outing. He allowed four hits in six scoreless innings and raised his season strikeout total to 117, ninth-most by an Oakland rookie.
Blue Jays: 1B Brandon Belt was not in the starting lineup for a fourth consecutive game. Belt has been dealing with an illness and lower back tightness.
Athletics: OF Lawrence Butler was placed on the Bereavement List and is expected to be back Friday, according to the team. 3B Kevin Smith was called up from Triple-A Las Vegas.
Blue Jays LHP Hyun Jin Ryu (3-1, 2.48) faces the A’s for the first time this season in the series finale Wednesday afternoon. Ryu has 15 strikeouts in 15 innings over three career starts against Oakland. The A’s will start LHP JP Sears (3-11, 4.60), who leads the majors with 15 hit batters, the most by any A’s pitcher in the past 112 years.