The A’s lost the series finale on Sunday afternoon, losing to the Texas Rangers 11-8 to ruin a chance at Oakland’s first sweep.
Oakland’s lone All-Star wasn’t very All-Star-y today as he was pummeled by the Texas bats in his toughest start yet. The bats finally got going when the A’s got into the Texas bullpen but the Texas lead was just too much of a mountain to overcome.
Blackburn’s worst outing
In his first start for the A’s in the second half, the All-Star was anything but that today. Texas scored three times against Paul Blackburn in the first inning, capped by a two-run home run by Adolis Garcia. That was only a taste of what was to come.
He managed to keep Texas off the board in the second after putting a pair of Rangers on base, but wouldn’t be so lucky in the third as Texas strung together a couple two-out hits for their fourth run.
There was one bright spot for Blackburn before the real blow up occurred. After former Athletic Marcus Semien hit a two-out double in the fourth, Blackburn picked him off of second to end the inning.
And then the fifth came. The inning was a complete disaster any way you spin it for Blackburn. Six hits and a walk brought home six runs in the inning for Texas, It felt like Mark Kotsay wanted to give Blackburn a chance to at least finish the inning but he just couldn’t get it done, forcing a pitching change to new reliever David McKay for his A’s debut.
- Paul Blackburn: 4 1⁄3 IP, 10 H, 10 R, 2 BB, 2 HBP, 5 K, 85 pitches
He really struggled with command of his breaking ball today, and his fastball was a touch slower than it has been too. The 10 runs allowed are a career high across his entire professional career. Blackburn is going through the worst stretch of his season so far, allowing 21 runs over his past 3 starts. And the trend goes back even further as The Chronicle’s Matt Kawahara points out:
Paul Blackburn's season ERA is 4.35 after the Rangers scored 10 runs against him today.— Matt Kawahara (@matthewkawahara) July 24, 2022
First 9 starts: 47.2 IP, 1.70 ERA, 36 H, 13 XBH, 1 HR
Last 10 starts: 53.2 IP, 6.71 ERA, 63 H, 29 XBH, 10 HR https://t.co/TdBub3cyz8
As for the bullpen, McKay finished the fifth and pitched a couple more innings after that while allowing a run, and Austin Pruitt loaded the bases in the eighth but didn’t allow a run then pitched a clean ninth inning.
Offense quiet against Texas starter
Infielder Nick Allen led off the bottom of the first with a single to wipe out any chance of the team getting no hit from the get-go, and Sean Murphy drew the first of two walks he had today to put Oakland in a position to get a run or two right back after falling behind early. They didn’t capitalize on the opportunity and that was their best chance to get some damage in against Martin Perez for a while. The resurgent lefty went on to retire nine of the next ten A’s hitters, only walking Murphy again.
They finally broke through for a run in the fifth. Dermis Garcia drew a leadoff walk, Sheldon Neuse got Oakland’s second hit of the day with an opposite-field single, and Allen brought in Garcia with an RBI groundout to at least prevent a shutout. By this point it was an out of reach 10-run deficit, though.
They got back-to-back singles in the sixth but couldn’t do anything with them, then went down in order in the seventh, which turned out to be Perez’ final inning. The A’s just had no answer for him today, managing just the one run in seven innings against the All-Star.
With Perez out, the bats wake up
A’s hitters must have been waiting all day for him to get out of there as they immediately jumped on the first arm out of the Texas bullpen. They got three straight hits to open the eighth, including a two-run double from Chad Pinder, then a 2-run blast from Stephen Piscotty made the score much more respectable:
Another Garcia walk and a Vimael Machin single got people thinking that maybe, just maybe, the A’s could actually mount a serious comeback attempt. It took an incredible over-the-shoulder catch from the Ranger third baseman deep in left field to finally end Oakland’s rally. Oakland ultimately scored four times in the inning to cut into the still-huge deficit.
Then they kept it up in the bottom of the ninth, too. Back-to-back-to-back home runs from Murphy, Pinder and Tony Kemp cut into the lead even more (Note: first time the A’s have done that since 2006, also against Texas).
Murph.— A's on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) July 24, 2022
Back-to-back-to-back blasts in the ninth pic.twitter.com/TsrRWZjd8T
Were the Rangers really going to blow a game they once led 10-0?
No, as it turns out. A mound visit did the trick for Texas as the final two hitters of the game struck out to end it. It was just too little, too late from the bats.
So the A’s blow a chance for their first sweep of 2022. It was only their second chance at a sweep this season, and they’re still looking to win four games in a row for the first time as well. On the bright side of things they made the game interesting at the end. The squad might lose a lot more games this year, but this group of guys always plays to the last out. And there’s still plenty of season left for this club to get a sweep, too.
The homestand continues tomorrow as the A’s will welcome the Houston Astros to the Coliseum for a three-game series. It’ll be Adam Oller facing off against Jake Odorizzi in a battle of first versus last place teams.