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Game #63: Paul Blackburn’s gem leads A’s to 4-1 victory

An excellent debut for the righty in 2018.

MLB: Kansas City Royals at Oakland Athletics Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The A’s will stay on the right side of .500 for at least a few more games after beating the Kansas City Royals by a score of 4-1. Paul Blackburn was magnificent in his first start of 2018 and the A’s offense did enough to support him to start off the long homestand with a much needed win.

Paul Blackburn

Tonight, Paul Blackburn made his season debut. He’s the tenth Athletic to start a game, a reasonable number for a full season but an ugly one for early June.

Blackburn was a great surprise in 2017, and he picked up right where he left off tonight. The soft throwing righty showed ample command and pitchability, keeping the Royals off balanced and off the bases from the start of the game.

His only blemish was a third inning hanging curveball blasted just over the left field scoreboard by Alcides Escobar because this is 2018 and anyone can hit a home run anywhere. Otherwise, Blackburn was flawless, inducing weak contact and meager groundballs all night long.

There’s not much flash to Paul Blackburn and in today’s game, it’s a welcome sight. He throws strikes, he works quickly and damn: he’s been great! Tonight, he had a 75 pitch limit and still made it through six innings, preventing himself from being a bullpen burden like so many pitchers are. Just an amazing start in so many ways and hopefully a stabilizing force for the A’s rotation.

Matt Olson stays hot

In the bottom of the fourth, Matt Olson mercifully interrupted a conversation between Dallas Braden and Glenn Kuiper about which single pitching stat tells you the most about a pitcher as though pitching stats are an overpriced a la carte rare commodity with an absolute bomb.

Matt Olson has 13 home runs this year and four of those are against the Royals. The A’s played their first game against the Royals last week.

That’s mostly a dumb fun fact without much actual meaning - the key takeaway here is that Olson is hot and looking like the absolute stud from 2017. He’ll have ups and he’ll have downs, and his slowish start doesn’t mean he can’t be great. His stance makes it look like he’s allergic to his own hands but no matter. The dude is a slugger.

1-1 ballgame.

The A’s take the lead

In the sixth, the A’s offense started to move with the help of the Royals defense.

With one out, Khris Davis lined a single to left to culminate a mighty impressive at-bat which should remind us all the dude is more than a simple dinger machine. He’d move to second on a walk to Matt Olson in which, for maybe the first time this year, you could truly see a pitcher fear the mighty slugger.

Davis would score on a Matt Chapman double to center. The play itself was a nice juxtaposition of luck and skill as Chapman absolutely smoked a ball Paulo Orlando absolutely should have caught but instead lost in the early summer dusk.

Next up was Marcus Semien who lined a strong single to left, scoring Olson and moving Chapman to third. Chapman would then score on Stephen Piscotty’s third hit of the night making the score 4-1. A true team effort!

The bullpen

Blackburn would give way to Lou Trivino in the seventh, and Trivino would do what he does - get outs. Yusmeiro Petit came in to pitch the eighth and with the help of Dustin Fowler, pitched a clean frame.

Blake Treinen came in to close the game out and like he has all season, Treinen owned his inning. The dude is legitimately one of the best pitchers in the game.

A win

If the A’s are going to compete, they’d better rattle off some wins over the next nine games. They’re off to a good start to the homestand with an easy, solid team win. Keep the good times rolling!