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Game #136: A’s comeback attempt falls short

A’s lose 10-8 to Blue Jays

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Toronto Blue Jays Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports

The Oakland A’s scored five runs in the 9th inning on Saturday. Unfortunately they needed seven.

The A’s put together a heck of a comeback attempt at the end, but it wasn’t quite enough as they fell 10-8 to the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.

*** Click here to revisit today’s Game Thread! ***

Last night the Blue Jays stunned Oakland with a six-run comeback and an eventual victory, and the A’s came close to returning the favor today. The score was 10-3 entering the 9th, until the first five batters of the inning scored — Mark Canha drilled a three-run homer and Sean Murphy followed with a two-run blast, all with nobody out. But they need two more, and instead the next three batters were retired in order.

The game was close for most of the afternoon. Oakland scored two in the 7th to cut the margin to 4-3, but then their bullpen pre-blew it by allowed a three-spot in the bottom of the inning and then another three in the 8th. Those insurance runs were too much to overcome and ultimately made the difference.

On the offensive side, the A’s were quiet until the 5th inning when Matt Chapman hit a solo homer. In the 7th they got RBI singles from Canha and Chad Pinder, Their rally in the 9th began with a Chapman leadoff walk, followed by a pinch-hit single off the RF wall from Austin Allen, his first hit since being called up from the minors this week. Canha cleaned up the bases with a dinger, then Pinder singled in front of Murphy’s long ball. Khris Davis came off the bench for two at-bats but struck out both times, including once to end the game.

As for the pitching, starter Paul Blackburn got knocked out in the 4th inning, the first time in four appearances that he hasn’t completed at least five frames. He was tagged for three homers along the way, and perhaps was fortunate that the damage on the scoreboard wasn’t even worse, though he did help himself by not walking anybody. Still, that short duration meant another long day for the bullpen.

  • Blackburn: 3⅔, 4 runs, 3 Ks, 0 BB, 3 HR, 9 hits, 69 pitches, 90.6 mph EV

The three homers off him were hit by the Nos. 6, 8, and 9 batters in Toronto’s lineup.

There was one bright side after Blackburn’s exit, when rookie Daulton Jefferies entered for emergency long relief. Jefferies retired seven of the nine batters he faced, calming things down through the end of the 6th and giving his teammates long enough to begin battling back — which they did in the top of the 7th.

But then the rest of the bullpen melted down, again. In the bottom of the 7th, Jake Diekman issued a leadoff walk, then a single, and then a three-run homer. In the 8th, the slumping Lou Trivino made the situation even worse, pegging a pair of batters and ultimately loading the bases; Burch Smith came in to escape the jam but allowed a three-run double. The hit off Smith was nearly caught by a diving Skye Bolt in center, but glanced off his glove and rolled past him.

Manager Bob Melvin said the following about Trivino after the game, per insider Martin Gallegos:

“Obviously, there’s a lack of command in what he’s doing. Was trying to get him in a down game to get him to throw some strikes and get back to doing what he was doing. He just couldn’t find the right arm slot today. Just pressing a little too much right now.”

In their last four games combined, Oakland’s bullpen has allowed a total of 22 runs.

Nightmare continues

Every day, this team finds another way to break your heart. This afternoon it was the classic tease in the 9th inning, with a dramatic comeback that fell short. Welp.