The A’s won a nail-biter on Saturday afternoon, beating the Toronto Blue Jays 7-5.
The offense came alive early and late, while Oakland got another solid outing from their starting pitcher.
The A’s fell behind fast today. After going down in order to lead off the game, Paul Blackburn took the mound hoping to match or improve on his last performance of five shutout innings. Toronto would make sure that wouldn’t happen again right away, as the Blue Jays jumped on him with a leadoff double that would eventually come around to score on a fielder’s choice.
Then the second inning happened. Oakland would string together three doubles and a single to open the frame. Sean Murphy got things going, followed by Sheldon Neuse, Kevin Smith, and Christian Bethancourt:
well the runs start coming and they don't stop coming and they don't stop coming and they don't stop coming pic.twitter.com/Z4AeZlmvgR— Oakland A's (@Athletics) April 16, 2022
That double by Bethancourt, who was starting today at first base, was his first hit since 2017. It’s been a while for him.
After the smoked had cleared, the A’s had scored three runs in inning, giving Blackburn some breathing room after a tough first inning.
But why have three runs when you could have five? Sean Murphy must have been wondering that heading into the batters’ box, because this happened the next inning:
That two-run rocket by Murphy landed way above the stands and made it 5-1 after three innings. But with six innings to go and facing this Blue Jays lineup, there was a feeling this was still a close game even with Oakland up 4 runs.
That turned out to be the case. Blackburn had a couple uneventful innings in the second and third, then gave up three straight 1-out singles in the bottom half of the fourth to bring in the Jays’ 2nd run. Things could have gotten out of hand at that point, but Blackburn pulled the string on a breaking ball and got Alejandro Kirk to ground into a 4-6-3 double play and end the threat. Blackburn would go one more inning before his day was over.
- Paul Blackburn: 5 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 3 K, 73 pitches
Another solid outing from Blackburn, who just looks like a different guy with that new breaking ball. And at 73 pitches he probably could have gone longer.
Ultimately Kotsay didn’t want him facing the lineup a third time through, so the manager turned to Domingo Acevedo for the 6th to preserve the lead.
It started nice enough! A Jeter-esque throw from Elvis Andrus would start the inning out on the right foot:
Then, after two quick outs, it began falling apart, starting with a full count single. Old friend Matt Chapman strode to the plate and got his first hit against his former team with a towering home run to left field to make it a 1-run game. That wouldn’t last long, with Blue Jays DH Zack Collins taking the next pitch and sending it over the wall in right-center to tie this game. Two more singles would end Acevedo’s day, as Justin Grimm came in and nailed the final out and ending Toronto’s rally. Grimm would go back out there for the 7th and put up a clean inning.
Meanwhile the offense had disappeared since the Murphy bomb, as Blue Jays pitchers would retire the 14 of the next 15 hitters the A’s sent to the plate (the one batter to reach base, a Chad Pinder single, was immediately followed by a double play).
Finally, back-to-back walks by Andrus and Jed Lowrie in the top of the 8th would break that pattern and put a runner in scoring position with one out. Oakland couldn’t do anything with that opportunity, but at least they had broken up that streak. Dany Jimenez pitched a perfect bottom half, striking out all three batters. Impressive stuff in the early going from the former Rule 5 pick. That would send this game to the ninth inning all tied up.
BUT NOT FOR LONG! Up came rookie sensation Cristian Pache, With a runner on and out out, Pache hit his first home run of the year, second of his career, and first of hopefully many with the A’s:
That opposite field home run got out in a hurry. Just sneaking over the wall in right field, it couldn’t have come at a better time for this lineup that seemed to lose itself halfway through.
With a two-run lead heading to the bottom of the ninth, it was closing time. Kotsay turned to Lou Trivino to preserve the win and get the A’s above .500 again. A leadoff walk would make it a little stressful for people watching at home, but thankfully Lou woke up and struck out the next three batters swinging and getting his second save of the year. Want to hear some disappointed Blue Jays fans?
Oakland has a winning record! Who would have thought that with the 10-game East Coast road trip against some of the best teams in baseball? The offense got some big hits at the right times, the pitching outside of one reliever was solid, and Trivino has turned it around after a bad first outing. If the A’s can win tomorrow and return home not only two game above .500 but on a winning note? That could boost this young squad for weeks.
The A’s will wrap up the series tomorrow with a morning match. with righty Adam Oller set for his second career start. Let’s hope the nerves he showed in his first start have eased up a bit. Let’s Go A’s!