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Game #78: Poor Fifth Sinks A’s

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On the bright side, they set an MLB record for homering on the road.

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Chicago White Sox David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

On the receiving end of a slugfest, the A’s drop game four of the series and manage only a split versus the White Sox. The game started off well. It did not end up well.

**Click Here to Revisit the Game Thread**

Franklin Barreto had some of his best at bats of his career, Mark Canha got the team out to an early lead on a sacrifice fly, and Paul Blackburn was throwing darts through the first four innings of today’s game. The A’s lead was tenuous, but given the fact that Blackburn had only thrown forty five pitches through four innings with only one hit, an infield single, blemishing his record, it felt safe. Mostly safe.

The fifth inning proved to be decisive. The frame started off in the best possible way, with Canha hitting a solo home run on the first pitch he saw to give the A’s a 2-0 lead. Canha’s home run was record setting, as it meant the A’s, as a team, had homered in twenty five straight road games, beating a record that stood longer than the team’s 20-game win streak.

The next two batters, Lucroy and Barreto, singled and doubled respectively to place runners on second and third with nobody out. With the score still tight, capitalizing would be key, something that should be simple given the top of the order due up. Semien hit a harmless ground out, Pinder struck out swinging, and Lowrie popped out and the A’s threat was done.

Blackburn had been cruising through four innings. However, after getting the first two outs on just six pitches in the fifth, suddenly the wheels came off. Two straight singles and a hit batsman loaded the bases, and then Yoan Moncada unloaded the bases with a double down the right field line. Two more hits extended the White Sox lead to 5-2 before the inning mercifully ended when Jose Abreu tried and failed to extend a single into a double.

Despite allowing six consecutive batters to reach base in the previous inning, Blackburn returned for the sixth inning, and on the first pitch he threw sailed over the right field wall for a solo home run, via the bat of Daniel Palka. Blackburn was removed after the homer with a final line of five-plus innings pitched, six runs, eight hits, and four strikeouts with zero walks. Given the fact that the A’s bullpen got taxed in this series, the decision to leave Blackburn in to determine if he could rediscover what made him successful in the first four frames may have been the correct one, but the decision certainly backfired. Blackburn was absolutely dominant in the first four frames, but its his overall performance that matters most and he couldn’t get a key third out when the team really needed it.

Liam Hendriks came on to provide relief. After two home runs and four additional runs came across the plate, it was clear Hendriks did not have any. The A’s gave up five runs in the fifth and five in the sixth, and in an instant the game was out of reach. There was no comeback.

The A’s tie a series that they really could have and should have won, and will now set off to Detroit for a midday game tomorrow. A’s lose 10-3.