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Game #75: A’s drop series opener, fall 9-5 to Yankees

One disaster inning costs Oakland a win

MLB: Oakland Athletics at New York Yankees Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Oakland dropped the first game against the best team in baseball, losing to the New York Yankees 9-5 on Monday evening.

The starting pitching was solid considering who he was facing off against, and the lineup had a big third inning where they scored all their runs. The Yankees had a big inning of their own, though, as the bullpen let this game get away from the A’s late.

*** Click here to revisit today’s Game Thread! ***

New York struck first today, getting a two-out home run in the bottom of the first off the bat of Anthony Rizzo. That bomb was the first road home run starting pitcher Paul Blackburn has allowed all year and only his sixth total. Blackburn’s pitches were working tonight, though, striking out five in the first two innings, including this one to escape a jam in the second:

As for Oakland, it took a couple innings but they got on the board in the third, and in a big way. A Nick Allen leadoff walk started the inning before a pair of strikeouts and an infield single brought up Ramon Laureano with two on and two out:

That ball came within inches of going out, but it wouldn’t matter. Sean Murphy came up and, down 0-2 in the count, took a bouncer to the leg and loaded the bases for Elvis Andrus. He took the third pitch of the at-bat and drove it into the left field corner, clearing the bases and giving Oakland the lead:

One more single, an opposite-field knock from Sheldon Neuse, brought a moving Andrus home and gave the A’s a 5-1 lead:

Of note, more than half of all of Neuse’s hits have gone the other way, with only seven hits pulled by him into left field. Hitting coaches must love him.

And that was it in the scoring department for the A’s as Oakland only managed one more hit the rest of the way in this one, an Allen single in the sixth.

The bottom of the inning saw MVP frontrunner Aaron Judge come up to the plate with a runner on, and facing this Yankees team, a four-run lead in the third is not enough. Blackburn got him to ground into a rare double play, though, with a little help from his defense:

Another home run from New York, this one a leadoff shot from Giancarlo Stanton in the fourth, was Blackburn’s second home run allowed on the road and this one cut the lead to three. Uh oh.

Another Yankee run came the next inning as a two-out single, steal and RBI hit from Judge that knocked off Andrus’ glove made it a two-run lead. They were creeping closer. Blackburn ultimately finished the fifth, but that was it for him tonight as Mark Kotsay turned to Adam Oller to start the sixth.

  • Paul Blackburn: 5 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 7 K, 2 HR, 91 pitches

A great bounce-back from the potential All-Star, holding down the top-scoring lineup in the game and setting a personal record along the way. Of the seven strikeouts Blackburn had today, six were looking:

Oller was playing with fire in his first inning of work, walking two of his first three batters. Luckily the bottom third of the Yankee lineup couldn’t cash in as Oller got the next two to escape unscathed.

His second inning went a lot worse. A one-out walk brought Judge up to the plate again. It looked like Oller had induced a groundball double play when the home plate umpire called catcher’s interference on Murphy, making it two on and one out situation instead of an inning-ending double play.

Kotsay turned again to the bullpen, bringing in A.J. Puk to face Rizzo in a friendly matchup. His first pitch hit Rizzo, though, loading the bases for Stanton. And then again, Murphy was called for catcher’s interference, putting Stanton on first and bringing in New York’s fourth run.

Considering he just won the Gold Glove last year, Murphy’s defense in the seventh was stunningly poor to say the least. There’s a good chance the A’s win this one if Murphy had a better inning here.

Old friend Josh Donaldson, now playing for the bad guys, lined a two-run double to left to take the lead, another double brought in a couple more, and an RBI single capped it off for New York. When the smoke had cleared, the Yankees had scored six runs in the seventh and taken a 9-5 lead.

The A’s didn’t mount any sort of comeback attempt, getting a harmless 1-out Andrus walk in the eighth and nothing else.

So Oakland drops the first game of the series after having a four-run lead. The outcome isn’t especially shocking considering the Yankees are the best team in baseball and the A’s are....well, not. Still, the A’s haven’t scored much this season so wasting a five-run performance like tonight is frustrating. Puk and Oller in particular did not have it tonight, blowing a chance for Blackburn to get his seventh win.

The A’s will try again to get in the win column tomorrow night, with Frankie Montas slated to start tomorrow evening. He’ll be opposed by JP Sears, a rookie who will be making his second career start. Should be a good opportunity for a win!