The losing streak is over!
The Oakland A’s defeated the Detroit Tigers 2-0 on Monday at Comerica Park, ending a nine-game skid that dated back to last month.
Both clubs entered this series as cold as ice. They’d each lost 12 of their previous 14 games, and they’d each averaged a lowly 2.1 runs per contest during that stretch, with the Tigers sitting on their own five-game losing streak. But somebody had to win tonight, and the A’s came through.
Oakland’s lineup remained relatively quiet, racking up just two runs on six hits, but that turned out to be enough thanks to a shutout by the pitching staff. The silver lining of the team’s recent slump has been mostly quality pitching, and the arms continued that trend this evening and had their work rewarded with a victory.
Starter Paul Blackburn delivered his best performance yet amid a breakout campaign, keeping Detroit scoreless into the 7th inning. He never let them reach third base, and he never let them put multiple runners aboard at once, facing just three batters over the minimum while he was out there.
- Blackburn: 6⅔ ip, 0 runs, 3 Ks, 0 BB, 4 hits, 88 pitches
The right-hander allowed a bit of hard contact, but it was mostly on the ground, and his teammates chipped in by catching a couple sharp liners. In particular, third baseman Kevin Smith snared a 105.3 mph blast in the 4th inning to save a run. Otherwise, Blackburn helped his own case by avoiding walks.
Most notable was the length of his outing. To this point he’d been limited to two times through the opposing lineup, and he was yet to go beyond five frames in any game. Tonight he finished the 6th inning and got two outs in the 7th, working five batters into a third turn through the order.
Blackburn was finally lifted in the 7th after allowing a single, and the bullpen carried the torch the rest of the way. Zach Jackson quickly stranded the inherited runner and then breezed through the 8th including a pair of strikeouts, and Dany Jimenez made the 9th interesting with a couple walks but ultimately nailed down the save with three strikeouts.
One of Jimenez’s outs came on a generous call by the umpire, earning the ire of the Tigers dugout. It wasn’t the first borderline call to go the A’s way tonight, and Detroit manager A.J. Hinch supported his players by getting himself ejected.
The Tigers were not happy with this called third strike pic.twitter.com/9B6SdgrbNi— A's on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) May 10, 2022
In the ump’s defense, Statcast shows that location was called a strike all night for both teams, so it was a consistently wide zone. That said, the Tigers did have a legitimate gripe on a couple other calls at the top of the zone earlier in the game. But that’s the way it goes sometimes, and it doesn’t take away from a gem by Oakland’s pitchers.
On the other side of the ball, all the A’s lineup had to do was score something, and they got that job done. Two runs will do when you toss a shutout.
The first run came in the 3rd inning, on a solo homer by Tony Kemp.
They struck again in the 4th, on a double by Sean Murphy and an RBI single by Chad Pinder.
That was all the offense they ended up needing. There were a couple other opportunities, with Smith hitting a triple in the 2nd inning but being stranded on third base, and later a pair of walks in the 5th that didn’t amount to anything, but all that mattered was they scored more than nothing.
Feels good to snap such a long skid. It came against a similarly struggling opponent, and the lineup didn’t exactly bust out of its own doldrums, but there’s no room for details when you’re at nine losses in a row. Oakland won tonight! Celebrate good times.