The A's Bobby Crosby ended yet another Blue Jays pitcher's shutout bid. In fact, this time it ended a no-hit bid.
Yet again, it made no difference for the Oakland Athletics, as Toronto cruised to a 5-1 victory at Rogers Centre, handing the A's their 9th straight defeat and 16th in 18 since the All-Star break.
In a quick game which lasted only 2 hours and 15 minutes, the Blue Jays took an early lead and Shaun Marcum--the story of the contest--made it stand up with seven brilliant innings.
The win gave Toronto their third straight over Oakland to open this four-game set.
Marcum's outing served as a reminder how good he was in the first half before he landed on the DL in June. Despite having 11 quality starts (6+IP, 3R or fewer) out of his first 18 and being one of the best starts in the AL, the right-hander was only a .500 pitcher, thanks to a lack of run support.
Getting an early lead was just what Marcum needed, and he rewarded the Jays with his dominant performance.
On the other side, the A's Gio Gonzalez, making his major league debut, looked good in the beginning, retiring the first two Blue Jays before disaster struck.
Alex Rios doubled, Lyle Overbay walked, and Rod Barajas hit a drive to deep left, a no-doubter, and the Blue Jays were up 3-0.
Given the way Marcum was pitching, the A's didn't have a chance.
Marcum pitched five no-hit innings, striking out five straight in one stretch--including former Jay Frank Thomas, who got rung up on a close 3-2 pitch--before Crosby homered to left to break up the no-no and shutout leading off the sixth.
Crosby had also homered Monday to break up Roy Halladay's shutout in the eighth.
Marcum allowed two more hits in the seventh and loaded the bases with none out. But the right-hander came right back and got a fielder's choice and double play ball to escape with the 3-1 lead in tack.
Marcum allowed just three hits and two walks in his seven innings, striking out seven, picking up his 6th win. Out of his 89 pitches, 60 were strikes.
For the Blue Jays starter, it was a much better effort than his first three starts coming off the DL in July. Marcum had given up four runs or more each time and twice couldn't get out of the fifth.
Marcum, who once had one of the top two ERAs in the American League, had seen that statistic balloon thanks to the recent struggles. Though he is no longer even in the top ten, Marcum still has a respectable 3.44 ERA after Wednesday's performance.
Scott Downs and B.J. Ryan each pitched an inning to close things out.
Gonzalez settled down for the A's after the rough first inning, and allowed four runs on four hits in his six innings of work.