Oakland was defeated by the Texas Rangers in the series finale on Wednesday evening, managing just four hits in the 5-2 loss.
Texas pounced on Oakland’s starter for all their runs in the first, but he settled in after that, only walking a single hitter the rest of the way. The damage stood up against an impotent A’s lineup that struck out 12 times and only got a pair of solo home runs in the ninth to prevent a shutout.
Rough start, but the All-Star settled in
With a chance at a series win, Oakland starter and All-Star Paul Blackburn came out of the gates completely flat. After allowing only 8 runs on the road over 10 starts this year, Texas tagged him for five in the bottom of the first. Three walks and three singles off the righty led to five Rangers runs. The walks were especially surprising considering he’d only had one start this year with more than two walks, and he had three in the very first inning, all of which came around to score.
He was a completely different pitcher the rest of the way, however. Blackburn rebounded from the terrible start to retire 15 of the next 16 Rangers batters he faced, allowing only one more walk during the rest of his day.
- Paul Blackburn: 6 IP, 3 H, 5 R, 4 BB, 4 K, 101 pitches
The final line definitely doesn’t look pretty, and he had the worst first inning of his career. But he also settled in and kept the Rangers from expanding their lead, giving the A’s at least a chance to mount a comeback of some sorts. He ends the first half with a 3.62 ERA.
Next time we’ll see him will be in Los Angeles at the All-Star game!
Bats asleep for eight innings, wake up in the ninth
Texas starter Jon Gray absolutely dominated the Oakland lineup for seven innings, though, allowing just a single hit to Vimael Machin, a chopper up the middle that Marcus Semien would probably say he should have made:
Jon Gray was phenomenal tonight, tossing seven shutout innings and allowing just one hit. He struck out nine (9) A's batters with no walks.— kennedi landry (@kennlandry) July 14, 2022
The one hit? pic.twitter.com/xBrNenlCiy
They struck out nine times against the Rangers’ offseason addition and had no answer for his slider tonight.
The A’s did have a bit more luck against the Texas bullpen, specifically former Rangers closer Jose Leclerc. With a five-run lead in the ninth they sent him out to finish off an A’s lineup that had collected just one hit, and Oakland jumped on him. Center fielder Skye Bolt put the A’s on the board with a solo shot into the Texas bullpen in right-center field, his first of the year:
So no shutout after getting one-hit for eight innings, but the Rangers’ lead was still four so it was still too early to start thinking comeback, right?
Well, Ramon Laureano got everyone thinking that with his own solo blast:
Down to their final out, the A’s continued battling. Catcher Sean Murphy walked and Seth Brown roped a double to right field to put runners at second and third and actually bringing the tying run up to the plate. If you had said to anyone watching this game that Oakland would get the tying run up in the ninth, they’d forever look at you differently.
It would have been perfect to tie this game after Texas repeatedly did that to the A’s late in yesterday’s match. It was not meant to be, though, as Texas manager Chris Woodward made a pitching change. It worked as Stephen Vogt flew out to center to end the comeback attempt and give Oakland its 60th loss of the season.
The lineup has been an issue all year and it’s frankly surprising this squad hasn’t been no-hit yet. The two home runs at the end make the final score look better than the game actually went.
But again, these A’s just won’t quit when they’re supposed to. Down five runs and with only one hit, they charged back and made it interesting in the ninth. Give credit where credit is due.
Oakland has an off-day tomorrow before beginning the final series of the first half on Friday. Left-hander Cole Irvin is slated to start the first game against the division leading Astros in Houston while they’ve yet to announce a starter. Stay tuned!
- Laureano gunned down a Rangers runner trying to stretch a single into a double in the first inning to end the frame. Blackburn can credit his outfielder for helping get him to the dugout faster.
- The A’s got an update on Frankie Montas today. In short, it’s looking like he’s aiming to start the first game of the second half after the break.
- Infielder Nick Allen is going through a tough time at the plate right now. He’s just 2 for his last 21 at-bats, and he’s not bringing those struggles with him on defense, but as we saw with Cristian Pache, there’s a limit to how much slack Oakland will let defense-first players have.
- The struggles are hitting veteran Stephen Vogt just as hard, as he has just one hit in July and is hitting only .116 over his past 15 games. At least the one hit was a home run!