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Game #84: A’s lose pitching duel to Blue Jays 2-1

James Kaprielian with another great performance

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Oakland Athletics D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

Well, dang.

Oakland had a chance for their first sweep this season but couldn’t get it done, coming out on the wrong end of a pitching duel and falling 2-1 to the Toronto Blue Jays.

Both starting pitchers were awesome, trading zeros for five innings before the scoring finally got started. There wasn’t much rallying today as all three runs came from solo home runs, Just two wrong pitches cost the team a sweep.

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

Neither starting pitcher entering today’s game has had the season they’ve wanted. Toronto starter Jose Berrios has been knocked around hard in a few starts, while James Kaprielian has had a consistently rough season up until recently.

So of course they would have a pitching duel today at the Coliseum. Both matched scoreless inning after scoreless inning against one another for the first half of today’s game. A hit here, a walk there, it wasn’t enough to get a rally going for anyone for the first three innings.

Leading off the fourth, infielder Nick Allen showed off some more of that Gold Glove-esque leather from the keystone today:

That preceded back-to-back two-out singles by the Blue Jays for the first real scoring threat today. A hard-hit line drive looked like it would bring in the first run of the game, but again, Allen came through with the glove and saved the run:

With the shutout intact, Kaprielian continued to hold down a potent Toronto lineup for the next couple innings. His sixth and final full inning of the day was his roughest as he walked the leadoff man and allowed a single to put two on with no out and the red-hot Alejandro Kirk up to bat. He needed a groundball right here and that’s just what he got, getting Kirk to roll over into a double play. Another walk put runners at the corners but Kap got another grounder, this time to Vimael Machin at third who made a nice slide and throw to end the inning:

Heading to the dugout after escaping that jam seemed to give the players a bit of momentum. Now they needed a run.

Enter the heating-up Ramon Laureano, leading off the bottom of the sixth:

They didn’t know it at the time, but that would be Oakland’s last hit today, and they’d need it to hold up. Now with a 1-run lead, the A’s were only nine outs away from their first sweep of 2022. Doing it against Matt Chapman would be extra nice.

With Kaprielian only at 86 pitches, Mark Kotsay sent him back out there for the start of the seventh. His first batter of the seventh was, coincidentally, Chapman and after a seven-pitch battle, he took Kap’s eighth pitch and crushed it into the left-field stands for a game-tying home run, Chapman’s second in as many days. Is he morphing into an A’s killer?

Kotsay didn’t wait around and brought in Sam Moll in relief of Kaprielian, ending his day on a sour note.

  • James Kaprielian: 6 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 4 BB, 1 K, 94 pitches

Hindsight is 20-20 and his pitch count wasn’t a particular issue, but it’s still frustrating to see a great start blemished from one pitch. Kaprielian continues to show improvement since fixing his delivery a couple of weeks ago and the statistics bear that out. Although he only struck out one and walked four hitters today, Kap should take pride in today’s performance against a tough opponent and hopefully build on it heading into his next outing, tentatively scheduled for the Texas Rangers next week. His stock is trending up.

Moll had a 1-2-3 rest of the seventh but things took a turn for the worse in the eighth. Righty Domingo Acevedo relieved Moll to start the inning and was greeted on his fourth pitch to Bo Bichette with a solo shot down the left field line to give Toronto the lead. He sat the rest down in order but the damage was done. The A’s couldn’t rally against the Blue Jays’ bullpen as they shut down the A’s for three perfect innings to prevent a sweep in the series finale.

Losing the final game of a series when you can sweep hurts, but on the bright side Oakland took two of three from a team with a lot more talent and higher expectations than the rebuilding A’s. Nick Allen continues to look like the real deal in the field, and James Kaprielian deserved a win on his stat sheet today. His win streak could easily be at four right now if he had more run support. It’s hard for any club to win ballgames when the offense can only manage four hits.

The A’s have a much needed day off tomorrow before returning to the Coliseum Friday night to take on the Houston Astros for a quick three-game series. No starter has been announced yet for the A’s but it’ll likely be Paul Blackburn taking on Jose Urquidy. Should be a good matchup!