The A’s win!
After losing the first two, Oakland beat the Boston Red Sox 4-3 on Wednesday afternoon to prevent the sweep, end the losing streak, and now head back to the Bay Area on a winning note.
The pitching bent but didn’t break today, allowing 14 Red Sox to reach base but only one extra-base hit. The bats finally woke up and provided enough offense to escape from Boston with a win, collecting eight hits of their own. Start of a win streak?
The Red Sox had the A’s on their heels in the early going today. Two Boston batters reached base against Oakland starter Paul Blackburn in each of the first two innings but he managed to escape both jams without giving up a run,
The A’s were the first ones to strike, though. A 1-out popup to center field Cristian Pache that the Red Sox misplayed started things for Oakland. That was followed by a Chad Pinder RBI single to take the lead, a Ramon Laureano double that just missed going out that put runners at second and third, and a Christian Bethancourt 2-run single. See the whole rally below:
That gave the A’s a three-run lead, but there would be no shutdown inning for Blackburn.
A leadoff Boston walk was followed by a line drive to right field. It should have been first and second but Laureano messed up trying to bare hand the ball, allowing both runners to advance an extra base. Blackburn got three groundouts after that, but one of them brought in a run to cut into the Oakland lead. 3-1.
The Red Sox threatened again in the fourth, rallying with two outs to get runners on second and third. With the left-handed Rafael Devers up to the plate, Mark Kotsay decided to intentionally walk him and load the bases to get to Boston DH J.D. Martinez. Right call, as Martinez grounded the first pitch to Blackburn and the soft toss to first ended the inning unscored upon.
The A’s got an insurance run a couple innings later. A two-out single by Seth Brown chased Red Sox starter Rich Hill from the game, and a passed ball put Brown in scoring position. The next batter, Elvis Andrus, pulled a hard-hit ball past the Boston third baseman to bring Brown in as Andrus cruised into second. That run would turn out to be huge later in the game.
As for the Oakland starter, after giving up a one-out single in the bottom of the sixth, with a couple left-handed hitters coming up, and at 98 pitches, Kotsay went to the ‘pen, ending Blackburn’s day in line for his sixth win.
- Paul Blackburn: 5 1⁄3 IP, 8 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 4 K, 98 pitches
In a tough environment against a hot lineup, Blackburn played stopper for the A’s today and ensured that the flight home wouldn’t be all doom and gloom. He is now seventh in the A.L. with a 2.26 ERA and continues to look like he’ll be an All-Star come July. Kotsay spoke after the game about the righty:
Kotsay talks about how great "workhorse" Paul Blackburn has been for the A's this season pic.twitter.com/4KHN5PgzUI— A's on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) June 16, 2022
Lefty A.J. Puk relieved Blackburn and got two outs, including this sweet strikeout to end the sixth.
A thing of beauty.
Those were the only two outs Puk got today, though. He led off the bottom of the seventh by plunking the leadoff man for Boston, and Kotsay turned to the right-handed Zach Jackson with a pair of right-handers coming up. A big strikeout of Martinez got the first out, but a single put two on and brought the tying run to the plate. Jackson got a weak flyout to Pache in center for out number 2, then a huge 3-2 strikeout on a wicked breaking ball ended the inning, with both pitcher and catcher visibly fired up after the K to keep Boston off the board.
The A’s had a chance at an insurance run in the eighth thanks to a 1-out ground-rule double off the bat of Sean Murphy, but just couldn’t cash in after moving him to third. That extra run would have been huge, considering what was about to happen.
Because Tony Kemp pinch-hit in an effort to bring in Murphy, the defense needed to shift around a touch. Jonah Bride, who had started this game at second, moved to third while Kemp took over at the keystone.
Starting a new inning with a fresh pitcher, Kotsay had Sam Moll begin the bottom of the eighth and he immediately gave up a single and walked a batter. A quick mound visit seemed to help as Moll got the next two Red Sox out on a pop out and fly out. He even got a groundball to third on what should have ended the inning.
But with Bride now at third base, he fielded the ball and sailed it way over Brown at first base. Not only did that bring in the second Boston run, it was now a second and third situation with one of Boston’s most dangerous hitters in Martinez up to bat.
Righty Dany Jimenez was asked to get a four-out save and came in to face Martinez. An infield single knocked down by Kemp on a great dive at second brought in the third run for the Red Sox, but this game would have been tied if Kemp hadn’t gotten to that ball. Then, facing Xander Bogaerts with runners at the corners, the A’s closer finally got Oakland out of the inning on a groundball to Bride at third.
Oakland went down 1-2-3 in the ninth, but so did the Red Sox as Jimenez locked down the win for the A’s and secured his 11th save of 2022.
Finally! The three-city road trip is over, the second of three the A’s will have this year. It was not kind on Oakland as they went 2-7 during the trip. It was against some of the hottest teams in the league, though, especially the Braves and Red Sox. The competition should get a little easier for the next couple weeks.
It’ll be Frankie Montas tomorrow night at the Coliseum against the Kansas City Royals, the first of a six-game homestand for Oakland. Let’s get a win streak going and improve our home record, shall we? Go A’s!