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Game #5: A’s blow late lead and offensive outburst, lose to Rays 9-8

Oller not sharp in his first career start

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Tampa Bay Rays Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

The A’s lost a heartbreaker this evening 9-8, taking a 1-run lead into the bottom of the 10th inning and the closer coming on for his second appearance of the season. It wouldn’t work out, as the Rays scored twice to walk off the A’s and give Oakland it’s third loss of the young season.

The 4 hours and 13 minutes of today’s game had lots of highs and lots of Lowes, and the short outing from the starter might mean a short-handed bullpen for a couple of days. But the A’s kept up their hot hitting, scoring 8 runs after pushing across 13 yesterday.

*** Click here for today’s Game Thread! ***

The A’s jumped on Rays’ rookie starter Tommy Romero in his very first big league inning, putting up a 3 spot thanks to back-to-back walks from Tony Kemp and Elvis Andrus and a Jed Lowrie bomb to bring ‘em in:

Staked to a 3-0, it was the A’s own rookie Adam Oller’s turn for his big league debut. With a lead before even taking the mound, he was greeted to the big leagues by the first batter he faced with a leadoff Brandon Lowe home run to put the Rays on the board. That wasn’t it for the first inning either, as Tampa would load the bases against Oller before the righty punched out Brett Phillips to end the inning and end the threat. It just took a simple 36 pitches.

Oakland would threaten in the second, getting a runner all the way to third and chasing Tampa Bay starter Romero from the game before the door was slammed on the rally attempt.

Tampa would get to Oller again in the bottom half of the second, breaking through in a big way with a double, RBI single, and walk before surrendering a 3-run homer to Ji-Man Choi to give Tampa their first lead of the day. Oller wouldn’t face another batter, with Mark Kotsay turning to Jacob Lemoine.

  • Adam Oller: 1 ⅓ IP, 5 H, 5 R, 3 BB, 3 K, 2 HR, 56 pitches

Not the big league debut the young gun wanted, and the short outing put the A’s in a tough position needing to get at least 8 innings from the bullpen. Not an ideal situation this early in the season.

Thankfully they would show up, with the bullpen pitching 7 23 innings of 2 run ball for the rest of regulation, The parade started with Lemoine going 2 ⅓ with just a run allowed on a solo shot to Brett Phillips, followed by Adam Kolarek coming on for his season debut. Tampa would tag him for a run thanks to a leadoff triple in the 6th that would eventually lead to Tampa Bay’s seventh run.

Defense wasn’t exactly the A’s strong suit today, with the team committing three errors that thankfully didn’t lead to any Rays’ runs. There was one highlight in the 5th inning, however, courtesy of today’s third baseman Sheldon Neuse:

Meanwhile on offense, the bats had gone cold since the 2nd inning but started heating up again. A Seth Brown (2-3, 2 BB, RBI) single and wild pitch put a runner in scoring position with two down for Stephen Piscotty (2-4, RBI), who came up and came through with a slow dribbler to the second baseman:

Honestly, Brown is out by a mile if the catcher can corral that ball, but hey, a run’s a run, right?

It wasn’t until the next frame that the A’s would get the big hit they’d been looking for, Another 2-out rally starting with back-to-back walks (again) sparked the offense. It was Brown getting involved again, smacking an RBI single up the middle to cut the deficit to two:

Up came Chad Pinder with two runners on and the A’s needing a big hit:

That ball was inches from being caught, but it wasn’t. It was a brand new game. The bullpen would hold down the Rays from there, with Dany Jimenez, Kirby Snead, Domingo Acevedo, and Sam Moll all throwing scoreless appearances.

  • Bullpen after Oller/before Trivino: 7 23 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 4 BB, 7 K

Another good day for the ‘pen. The expectations for this group heading into the season were low, but they’ve shown up more often than not while even throwing in strikeouts, a nice change of pace compared to last year’s group. It’s been fun watching the new guys so far!

The final couple innings saw each team get a couple base runners but not seriously threaten. This game would be decided in extras. With Pinder starting the top of the 10th at second base, Billy McKinney walked up as the leadoff batter and gave the A’s the lead:

You have to wonder if Oakland would have scored more had McKinney not gotten thrown out trying to stretch it into a double, but it was at least close and took a heads up play by the Tampa Bay cutoff man to get the out.

That was the first lead for the A’s since the first inning, and it unfortunately wasn’t meant to last. Closer Lou Trivino came on for his first save chance of the season and allowed a leadoff double that brought in the tying run that started the inning at second base, For a moment it looked like the A’s might be headed to the 11th inning after Trivino got a strikeout and flyout to get two down. An intentional walk to Josh Lowe, curious considering he had struck out three times already in the game, brought up Manuel Margot, who lined a hit down the left field line to end the game and saddle Oakland with the loss.

This one hurt. What looked like a promising start ended up turning into a disheartening walk-off loss. But there were some more positives from a lot of the players today. A’s hitters had 9 walks and only struck out 8 times while demonstrating some good situational hitting. And the bullpen outside of Trivino was fantastic considering the circumstances. Plus you just gotta love the fight this team is showing in the early going.

The A’s are right back at it again tomorrow, same time same place same opponent, with Frankie Montas in line for his second start. See you all then!