The Oakland A’s were one inning away from ending their skid.
They led for the entire evening on Friday, from the top of the 1st inning onward, but they blew the save in the 9th and lost 3-2 to the Cleveland Guardians at Progressive Field. The A’s have now lost 10 games in a row.
Everything was going right for eight innings. Oakland hit a homer in the 1st inning, then another in the 2nd, to jump out to an early lead. Their starting pitcher dominated, holding Cleveland to four hits through eight scoreless frames. Their defense chipped in a couple highlights.
Then it all came crashing down. The bullpen tried to close things out in the 9th but allowed a solo homer, a walk, and a double to the first three batters they faced. By that point a pair of sac flies were enough to push home the tying and walk-off runs. Womp womp.
The A’s lineup struck early but not often. Their third batter of the game, Seth Brown, blasted a solo homer for a quick 1-0 lead.
That ball went 412 feet at a mighty 104.2 mph exit velocity, but in the 2nd inning Sean Murphy beat those marks. Murphy’s 112.9 mph rocket traveled 416 feet for another solo homer.
Unfortunately, that was all they got tonight. They put runners on base in every inning from the 3rd through the 7th, but never crossed home plate again. After a leadoff single in the 7th, their final nine batters were retired in order.
Two runs were almost enough.
On the other side of the ball, Paul Blackburn had the best start of his career. The breakout right-hander worked eight sparkling innings, never letting the Guardians reach third base. They put together a couple rallies against him in the early going but he squashed both of them, and then he retired 17 of his final 18 batters, including the last eight in a row.
- Blackburn: 8 ip, 0 runs, 3 Ks, 1 BB, 4 hits, 101 pitches
It was a masterpiece. He didn’t miss many bats, but there were only a few pieces of hard contact and most of that was on the ground. The final out he recorded put an exclamation point on the marvelous outing, with Kevin Smith making a highlight play at third base.
All the bullpen had to do was wrap up the 9th inning, with a 2-0 lead.
Closer Dany Jimenez got the call, which has been a pleasantly reliable plan so far this season. This time it didn’t work out. Within three batters, the tying and winning runs were both in scoring position with nobody out. An intentional walk loaded the bases, and a sac fly brought home the tying run.
With the save blown, Sam Moll entered to stop the damage. He got a grounder but it was too slow to get any outs, reloading the bases. Another sac fly drove home the go-ahead run to end the game.
Welcome to a rebuilding season. On the bright side, Blackburn took a big step toward punching his ticket to the All-Star Game.
A's have led each of the last 4 games 2-0. They lost all 4. They've lost 10 in a row and are a league-worst 20-40.— Ben Ross (@BenRossTweets) June 11, 2022