Blue Jays-Athletics Preview
Tommy Milone is hoping he hasn't lost his mojo, too.
The rookie left-hander's brilliant run in Oakland came to an abrupt end earlier this week, but he'll try to regroup and avenge a recent loss to the Blue Jays in the finale of this four-game set Sunday.
The A's (58-49) have gone 21-7 since the beginning of July to surge into the lead in the AL wild-card race, posting five extra-inning home victories among eight walkoff wins in that stretch.
Friday night's 5-4, 15-inning win was their major league-best 13th in walkoff fashion in 2012, but they couldn't claim another one Saturday. Toronto's David Cooper homered in the ninth inning to send it to extras again, and the Blue Jays (52-55) won 3-1 in 11 after scoring the go-ahead run on Oakland catcher George Kottaras' throwing error.
"You're not going to win all those games, yet you expect to," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "We didn't come through this time."
Milone (9-8, 3.68 ERA) came through in his first eight home starts, allowing two or fewer runs in each while going 5-1 with a 0.91 ERA, but Tampa Bay wasn't impressed Tuesday. He yielded five runs in six innings of an 8-0 home loss to the Rays to drop his second straight start overall.
"I fell behind hitters and left the ball up," Milone said. "Strike one is a big pitch for me. If I don't get that, then I have to throw a good pitch and I get into a deeper hole."
Oakland will be looking for a long outing from Milone with the bullpen having thrown 18 1-3 innings over the last two days. Starter A.J. Griffin left in the second with a shoulder problem Saturday.
Yoenis Cespedes was out of the starting lineup with a right wrist sprain, but the Athletics are unlikely to get any sympathy from their banged-up opponent.
Aaron Laffey (2-2, 4.20) is among the replacements in a Blue Jays rotation decimated by injuries, and he's been struggling lately. After starting opposite Milone last month and allowing four runs in 5 2-3 innings, the left-hander yielded seven runs in 4 2-3 innings of Tuesday's 7-2 loss at Seattle.
"I've gotten away from my sinker the last couple games," Laffey said. "That's my bread and butter right there."
Saturday's victory snapped a six-game skid for Toronto, which had lost the first five on this 10-game road trip.
"We earned that one," manager John Farrell said. "It's been a while since we shook hands after a game."