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Jun 7, 2024 8:10 am

Blue Jays set sights on .500 mark in visit to A’s

chris bassitt

The Toronto Blue Jays take their pursuit of the .500 mark on the road as they open a three-game series against the Oakland Athletics on Friday night.

The Blue Jays packed a two-game winning streak when they embarked on a trip that will also see them visit the Milwaukee Brewers for three games to start of next week. At 30-32, they’d need to sweep the A’s to leave the city above .500.

That’s a mark the Blue Jays haven’t seen since April 29, when they were 15-15. On that occasion, they lost their next three games and 10 of 14 to fall to a season-worst 19-25, before turning things around of late with an 11-7 run. They defeated the Baltimore Orioles the past two days, splitting their four-game series.

“We’re not in a position where we want to be, but we’ve been grinding,” said Yusei Kikuchi, Thursday’s winning pitcher. “We haven’t given up. We’ve got 100 games left. That’s still a lot of season, so hopefully we can ride this momentum and keep winning.”

Toronto hopes right-hander Chris Bassitt (6-6, 4.13 ERA) is the right man in the right spot to keep the club rolling.

The 35-year-old pitched six seasons for the A’s, highlighted by a 12-4 campaign in 2021 in which he was selected to the American League All-Star team. He hasn’t lost to his old club since being dealt to the New York Mets in March 2022.

Bassitt got plenty of support from his Mets teammates in a 9-2 win in his first return to Oakland on Sept. 23, 2022. He threw eight innings that day, allowing six hits.

He had a similar experience last September, only it was the Toronto offense that made things easier for him. He again went eight innings, allowing seven hits in a 7-1 win.

In his career, he’s 2-0 with a 2.67 ERA in four starts against the A’s.

Bassitt brings a three-game winning streak into the start, having allowed a total of three runs in his last 17 innings. He is the only MLB pitacher to have gotten a decision in all 12 or more of his starts this season.

Among the unfamiliar faces he will see in his old stomping grounds will be A’s left-hander Hogan Harris (0-0, 3.14), who was promoted by Oakland for the first time the season after Bassitt was traded.

Harris has faced Toronto just once in his career, that coming as a bulk-innings reliever in Toronto last June. He was roughed up for four runs and five hits in 4 2/3 innings that day in a 7-3 loss. He did not get a decision.

The 27-year-old pitched effectively in his first start of this season on May 30, limiting the Tampa Bay Rays to one earned run and four hits over 5 2/3 innings in a 6-5, 12-inning road loss.

That game came in a stretch in which A’s starters have allowed two or fewer earned runs in six of nine outings. Oakland is just 3-6 over that span, however.

“It’s been a good run; we have definitely pitched. Offensively we haven’t taken advantage of that,” A’s manager Mark Kotsay said after Thursday’s 3-0 loss to the Seattle Mariners. “Generally, you get good pitching, you win games. We’ve had good starting pitching the last 10 or 12 outings. We haven’t capitalized on it.”

–Field Level Media

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