The Oakland A’s don’t have a lot to play for this week other than staying sharp for next week, and the results showed that on Saturday.
After dropping the opener of a doubleheader earlier in the day, the A’s lost the second game 12-3 to complete a sweep at the hands of the Seattle Mariners.
*** Revisit tonight’s Game Thread! ***
Oakland called up Paul Blackburn to make a spot start as the bonus 29th man on the roster, rather than overworking their regular pitching staff in the extra long day. Blackburn began well, retiring the first seven batters he faced, but then the wheels completely came off in the 3rd inning. Seattle went single, single, double, walk, double, walk, single, all in a row, bringing home four runs and knocking the right-hander out of the game. The three runners he bequeathed to the bullpen also later came home.
Blackburn: 2⅓ ip, 7 runs, 2 Ks, 2 BB, 0 HR, 5 hits, 48 pitches (28 strikes)
Only three of the batted balls against him registered as hard-hit, for what that’s worth.
The bullpen didn’t do much better. James Kaprielian (in just his second MLB outing) is the one who allowed all the inherited runners to score after Blackburn departed, and then he added two more of his own. Jordan Weems also gave up a pair of runs, in a rare bad showing for the quietly excellent rookie, and T.J. McFarland allowed a solo homer. In fact, all three of those pitchers served up dingers.
On the offensive side of the ball, it was more of the same. Nine hits, two walks, but only 1-for-5 with runners in scoring position. That one clutch hit came from Jake Lamb, an RBI single, as part of a rally that could have gone on longer if not for a double play by the next batter. Oakland’s other two runs arrived via solo homers by Robbie Grossman.
It was the first multi-homer game of Grossman’s career.
The A’s are limping into the playoffs, dropping five of their last seven games with one more to go Sunday against Seattle ace Marco Gonzales, but everything resets back to zero on Tuesday for Game 1 of the Wild Card Round. On the bright side, this loss dropped Oakland back into the No. 3 seed, one game behind the Twins, meaning their current matchup would be the favorable and fun grudge match with the No. 6 Astros, who finally clinched their spot. The Indians lost today and dropped back behind the White Sox at No. 7 for now, though some of this could change again based on Sunday’s results.