OAKLAND — Rich Hill didn’t last very long in what was supposed to be a key start for the Athletics’ pitcher.
With about a dozen major league scouts in attendance to check out the Oakland lefty — a potential trade candidate — Hill threw just five pitches before a blister on the middle finger of his left hand popped and forced him out of the game.
Things didn’t get much better after that for manager Bob Melvin’s ballclub.
Former A’s third baseman Josh Donaldson hit a tiebreaking two-run double with two outs in the ninth and the Toronto Blue Jays held on to beat Oakland 5-3 on Sunday to avoid a series sweep.
“It’s just disappointing, that’s the biggest thing,” said Hill, who had been scratched from a scheduled start on Friday because of the blister issue. “It opened up pretty good. It was bleeding. It’s pretty raw right now.”
Hill wasn’t the only A’s pitcher hurting.
His replacement, Andrew Triggs, was hit in the leg by a line drive from Donaldson moments after Hill was taken out. Triggs finished the inning, giving up an unearned run when left fielder Khris Davis misplayed Edwin Encarnacion’s single for an error, before Melvin brought in Manaea.
Oakland used seven pitchers overall.
“After losing two pitchers in the first inning with a limited bullpen to start, we played pretty well,” Melvin said. “We responded pretty well. Nice little fight until the end.”
Troy Tulowitzki homered while Russell Martin and Justin Smoak added two hits apiece for Toronto.
Marcus Semien homered for the A’s.
Smoak and Junior Lake hit consecutive one-out singles off John Axford (3-3) in the ninth. Devon Travis struck out looking before Donaldson lined a 2-1 pitch down the left field line to drive in pinch-runner Andy Burns and Lake.
“We desperately needed that as a team,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said. “We had the little lead, they came back and tied it. That’s a big win for us.”
Jason Grilli (3-1) retired three batters for the win. Roberto Osuna pitched the ninth for his 19th save.
Tulowitzki hit his 16th home run of the season off Sean Manaea in the fourth.