It took more than a month into the 2021 season, but the Oakland A’s bullpen finally blew a lead.
The A’s led entering the 8th inning, but the Toronto Blue Jays came flying back with a five-run frame to take over and Oakland never recovered. The result was a 9-4 loss for the green-and-gold, snapping their three-game win streak.
Oakland did pull off one comeback tonight. The Jays scored two runs right away in the 1st inning for an early lead, and the A’s spent the next couple hours chipping away. First was a solo homer by Ramon Laureano, his fourth in the last five games.
Our human highlight adding to his reel pic.twitter.com/dN1I9Tu06B— Oakland A's (@Athletics) May 6, 2021
In the 4th, Matt Chapman hit another solo dinger, tying the game at 2-2.
The A’s struck again in the 6th to take the lead. Laureano led off with a double, and moved to third on a groundout. Sean Murphy just needed to make contact somewhere to drive home the run, and he got it done with a bloop to shallow center that fell for a hit.
On any other night so far this year, that slim lead would have been enough. The A’s bullpen had converted all nine of its save chances, and all 13 of its holds, spanning a total of 11 games in which they were handed close leads at some point. But no pen is perfect forever, and this was their turn to falter.
At least it was spectacular. Lou Trivino got the 8th inning. His first two batters reached base on a walk and a single, and then he got the first out on the ground. But during the next at-bat he uncorked a wild pitch under the glove of catcher Austin Allen to let the tying run score. A walk and two more singles plated two more.
That rally chased Trivino, and lefty Adam Kolarek entered to clean it up. But a squeeze bunt challenged Kolarek on defense and he didn’t make the play, and then his next groundout was hit too weakly to turn a double play so another runner scored. When the dust settled, five runs had come home, all charged to Trivino, and Kolarek had surrendered two inherited runners despite allowing nothing even close to hard contact by any of his three batters.
Suddenly the game had been turned on its head, and it stayed there. The A’s scored once more on an RBI double by Murphy, and the Jays answered back with some more insurance in the 9th.
Bassitt quality again
One reason the evening was so quiet for the first seven innings was Chris Bassitt, who put in a quality start for the A’s for his fourth straight appearance. After his early two-run blip in the 1st inning, he settled down and retired 19 of his final 21 batters — and one of those two stray hits was caught stealing by Allen.
- Bassitt: 7 ip, 2 runs, 7 Ks, 0 BB, 6 hits, 90 pitches, 88.6 mph EV
This was the Hound you remember from last year, when he earned some downballot Cy Young votes for his breakout campaign. There were a few hard-hit balls that mostly went for singles, and that was it, with his new slider earning him some extra whiffs along the way. If the pen had held on, then the story of the game would have been this gem by Bassitt.
Just when you think you couldn’t possibly like Chris Bassitt any more pic.twitter.com/YtFVYbKEDG— Ben Ross (@BenRossTweets) May 6, 2021
And how about that post-game shirt??
The A’s were never gonna make it all year without blowing a save, but waiting until early May isn’t too shabby. The Yankees are now the only team in the majors still yet to blow one.
Trivino has been excellent overall, but occasionally it’ll go wrong like this. If it happens a few more times in a row then the conversation changes, but for now it’s just a disappointing night for a team that’s otherwise been playing great. Go get ‘em tomorrow!