04/11/08 1:25 AM ET
Buck lifts A's to sweep
Outfielder's third double of night plates two in 12th inning
By Gregor Chisholm / Special to MLB.com
Buck was still looking for his first hit of the season before traveling to Toronto for a three-game series against the Jays. That search seems like ancient history now.
On Thursday night, Buck went 3-for-6 and recorded a two-run double off Toronto reliever Brandon League in the top of the 12th inning to send the Athletics to a series sweep over the Blue Jays with a 3-2 victory at Rogers Centre.
"After I got that first hit out of the way two games ago I just started being myself," said Buck, who hit .438 (7-for-16) during the series. "I'm not going to try and be who I'm not. That's who I am, a doubles hitter."
That may even be a bit of an understatement. Buck had three doubles on the night and finished with a total of six extra-base hits in the series. Not bad for a guy who was mired in an 0-for-22 slump before setting foot on Canadian soil.
"No matter how good you are when you're in a slump like that you begin to think about it," Buck conceded. "I put a little bit more pressure on myself this year and I just said, 'Forget about it. Just go back to doing what you do that got you here.'"
Buck's clutch double made a winner out of right-hander Joey Devine. The 24-year-old was recalled from Triple-A Sacramento earlier in the day to replace injured starting pitcher Rich Harden on the A's 25-man active roster.
Devine didn't arrive in Toronto until 20 minutes prior to game time because his connecting flight from Denver was delayed due to a snowstorm. But that didn't stop Oakland manager Bob Geren from using him in extra innings with the game on the line.
Devine, who was acquired in an offseason trade that sent outfielder Mark Kotsay to Atlanta, entered the game in the bottom of the 10th inning and proceeded to toss two scoreless innings to help set the table for Buck's heroics.
"It's just one of those things where you've got to get what you did previously in the day out of your head," Devine said of his traveling adventures. "Just walk it off and know that you have one job to do and that's to go out and put a zero on the board."
Devine's debut with Oakland could have gone a lot differently if not for a stellar defensive effort by third baseman Jack Hannahan in the bottom of the 11th. With runners on the corners and just one out, Geren moved his corner infielders in to try to cut down the winning-run at the plate.
Former A's infielder Marco Scutaro came to bat for Toronto and hit a scorching ground ball that appeared headed for left field. Hannahan reacted quickly, though, immediately diving to his left and stretching out to make the athletic grab.
Hannahan's reaction was quick enough to not only keep the Jays' winning run on third base but also in time to record the out at first.
"Incredible," Devine said of the highlight reel catch. "That's just an unbelievable athlete putting his body on the line and coming up with a great play."
Almost forgotten because of the late-inning heroics was the dominating performance by Athletics starter Dana Eveland. The 24-year-old was in control right from the opening pitch -- facing just two batters over the minimum through the first five innings of the game. He departed after 6 1/3 shutout innings having allowed just three hits while striking out six batters.
After the game, Eveland attributed his success to being able to establish his fastball and curveball before switching game plans during the middle innings to keep Toronto's hitters guessing.
"Later on in the game, I started mixing in more changeups and sliders, which I felt threw the hitters off a little bit," Eveland said. "Showing two pitches to start the game and then -- fourth or fifth inning -- all of a sudden start showing different looks, I think that was a big reason why I was effective."
With the victory, the A's have won five of their past six games and secured their first series sweep since Aug. 20-22, which also occurred in Toronto.
"We're very confident right now," Buck said. "The Blue Jays aren't going to get swept too many times this year, especially here. Just the way these three games went and how we fought all the way to the end, everyone did their job this series."
Gregor Chisholm is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.