BY DANIEL GLUSKOTER
Marcus Semien completed a successful first return trip to Oakland, ripping four hits including a homer and scoring three runs to help lead Toronto to a 10-4 win over the A’s Thursday afternoon at the Coliseum and a split of their four-game series.
Semien, a Bay Area native who attended Cal, spent the last six seasons in Oakland before signing a one-year free-agent contract with the Blue Jays in the off-season. Back in the leadoff spot on his home turf, he went 7-17 in the series to raise his average .26 points. The young Jays also got a three-run home run and two-run double from Randal Grichuk on his way to a five RBI day along with a two-run homer from light hitting catcher Danny Jansen (.083).
The Athletics jumped out to a 1-0 first inning advantage on a lead-off home run by Mark Canha, but Oakland starter Mike Fiers (0-2, 7.71) was never able to find his groove in his shortest outing since Sept. 14, 2019, lasting only 3 1/3 innings. Fiers also blew a second chance to pitch with the lead after a three-run A’s outburst in the third, highlighted by a two-run single by Sean Murphy, put the A’s back on top 4-3. The next inning, Jansen went deep and Toronto never looked back.
Jays starter Hyun-jin Ryu (2-2, 3.31) settled down after Murphy got to him to make it thru the fifth and earn the decision in his return from the Injured List, striking out six Oakland batters while only walking one. Teoscar Hernández scored twice while driving in a pair while Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio had three hits apiece for Toronto.
After the game, Semien stated the obvious about his first trip back to the Coliseum: “Playing in a stadium that I’m very familiar with, the batter’s eye and the backdrop, the batter’s box, it’s nice to come back.” Toronto manager Charlie Montoyo also heaped praise on his new infielder: ““He’s a pro. He’s a professional who’s ready to play every day. If he doesn’t play, he’s mad at me. I already know that going into it. He’s ready to play every day and he’s going to give you all he has.”
The A’s return to action Friday night for the start of a three-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays, who will be visiting Oakland for the first time since eliminating the Athletics in the 2019 Wild Card Game. Sean Manaea (3-1, 3.48) will take the mound against Rich Hill (1-1, 6.39) in the opener at 6:40PM.
Oakland’s Mark Canha leads the Majors in hit by pitches (8) and leads the AL with 27 runs scored.
In spite of the loss, Oakland remains 1.5 games ahead of the Mariners for first in the AL West, and has been all alone in first place for the past 14 days.
Tomorrow is the second anniversary of Fiers no-hitter against the Reds, Saturday is the 53rd anniversary of Catfish Hunter’s perfect game against the Twins, and Sunday is the 11th anniversary of Dallas Braden’s Mother’s Day perfecto against Tampa Bay. All three games took place at the Coliseum.