Marcus Semien knew he’d get his chance. He’d been on the bench while his teammates erased a six-run deficit in short order. Then his former team, the Oakland A’s surged ahead, 10-8 on a Mark Canha two-run home run. 

When Semien stepped into the batter’s box next, he had a chance to set a new career-high in homers. More importantly, he had a chance to win the game. A game that had seemed so far out of reach.  

It was the opening game of the biggest series of the season and the Blue Jays were blowing it. Rookie pitcher Alek Manoah, who has been a revelation for much of the season, was wild and ineffective. He hit Josh Harrison on the hand, then hit Starling Marte in the head. He gave up a homer to Tony Kemp and surrendered six earned runs over five innings.  

 When the Jays came to bat in the bottom of the eighth, they were down 8-2. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. got the comeback started with an RBI single. The Athletics loaded the bases by plunking Bo Bichette and walking Teoscar Hernández. Alejandro Kirk also drew a bases-loaded walk to set up a dramatic at-bat by Lourdes Gurriel Jr.

Piña Power

A’s reliever Yusmeiro Petit issued a first pitch, belt-high breaking ball and Gurriel Jr. deposited it into the second deck in leftfield. Rogers Centre erupted and it was a brand-new ballgame, tied 8-8. 

The blossoming outfielder also had a key hit in Saturday’s wild 10-8 win. Once again he came to the plate with the bases loaded and hit one to straightaway center. The ball just got under the glove of the onrushing Skye Bolt and scored three runs.

The Blue Jays bullpen did everything they could to make it an uncomfortable win, giving up five runs in the ninth before closing the door. Gurriel Jr.’s double was the difference in the game. Over his last 12 games, he’s batting .381 (16-42) with 3 doubles, two homers, and 12 RBI.

Seminal Moment

Back to Friday night. As electrified as the crowd became with Gurriel Jr.’s blast, it became deflated after Canha’s answering shot. However, there still seemed to be a belief among the players and fans that there was more magic in the air. It didn’t hurt that the first two batters, Breyvic Valera and George Springer, reached base with a single and double respectively. 

It only made sense that Semien would find himself in this position. Twelve days earlier he fielded a routine ground ball needing one final out to seal a win. He inexplicably threw low, Guerrero Jr. couldn’t come up with it and the Jays lost in extra innings. 

That had to eat away at Semien and he made the most in his chance to make up for it. After battling Sergio Romo, he lifted a high deep shot into the leftfield seats to seal the team’s biggest and most dramatic win of the season. 

 

It’s exactly the type of win that can galvanize a team, and energize them for a playoff push.

Grichy, Grichy, Yeah-Yeah, Da-Da

Randal Grichuk set the tone for Sunday’s victory with one of the catches of the year.

Grichuk has had an up-and-down year. He was one of the team’s most consistent performers over the first two months. He’s hit just .167 since August 1st (14-84) but his continued solid performance in the field speaks to his professionalism.

Thanks for reading I hope you enjoyed it! Check out more of my articles here and other Belly Up content here. Follow me on Twitter here.

About Author

Graeme Wallace

My name is Graeme Wallace and I love sports I grew up with the Blue Jays World Series Championship teams in '92 and '93. There were some lean years in between but some good ones too, all leading up to Jose Bautista's epic bat flip in 2015. I'm so excited to be a part of Belly Up Sports!

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