Kyle Muller took the mound Wednesday afternoon in Oakland against the visiting Cleveland Guardians. Coming off an impressive Opening Day no-decision, the lefty faced off against righthander Hunter Gaddis in what would turn out to be an impressive pitcher’s duel for both men.
Muller started the first inning looking sharp. He recorded two strikeouts, getting Ahmed Rosario swinging and Josh Bell looking. His lone blemish was a sharp line drive single by Jose Ramirez. With the opening Day momentum at his back, Muller continued to impose is physical tools on the Cleveland batters with a slider that was unhittable early.
In the top of the second inning, Nick Allen made a great play in the gap at shortstop, but first baseman Ryan Noda was unable to pick the quick throw which resulted in an Oscar Gonzalez hit. A fielding error by Ramon Laureano put Kyle Muller in an early jam with runners on first and second with no outs. Muller responded with consecutive third strike sliders that caught Andres Gimenez and Myles Straw looking for outs one and two. Cam Gallagher ended the inning with a groundout to Tony Kemp.
Muller looked to be in trouble in the top of the third with back-to-back walks of Steven Kwan and Amed Rosario but answered the call quickly with a fly out by Jose Ramirez and a groundout by Josh Bell. Muller ended the inning when Gonzalez grounded out to Kemp. The Guardians left runners stranded at first and second for two consecutive innings.
In the bottom of the third inning, Oakland hitters fail to reach base and go down 1-2-3. Cleveland righty Hunter Gaddis was dealing, and the A’s hitters had little answer for Gaddis who had complete command of his pitches.
Muller struck out Gabriel Arias at the top of the fourth inning enroute to an eight-pitch inning. He looked to clearly be in the zone and had little problem with the Cleveland lineup.
Despite a throwing error by Shea Langeliers in the top of the fifth, Muller was able to work out of a jam with speedster Steven Kwan on third base. The moxy he displayed with runners on base was very impressive as induced a groundout by Josh Bell to end the top of the fifth inning. On the other side of the diamond, Cleveland’s Hunter Gaddis had zero problems with the Oakland lineup. Through five innings the righty had given up one hit and struck out four.
After throwing ninety-five pitches, Muller was pulled in the top of the sixth inning. The stat line was impressive, going 5.2 innings with 4 hits, 3 walks and 5 strikeouts. Unfortunately, reliever Domingo Acevedo would promptly give up a two-run double to the first batter he faced, Cam Gallagher scoring Andres Gimenez and Myles Straw. Cleveland would take a 2-0 lead going into the bottom of the seventh inning.
Adrian Martinez entered the game in the top of the seventh and looked to keep the deficit at two runs. The young righty would find himself in trouble early, loading the bases and giving up a two-run single that resulted in a 4-0 Cleveland lead. Martinez would settle down in the next inning and not allow any additional runs.
The eighth inning is when the fun started when Ryan Noda took Nick Sandlin deep on the first pitch he saw in the top of the eighth inning, putting the A’s on the board and ending the shutout. Jesus Aguilar had a magnificent twelve pitch at-bat and with runners on base (Kemp, Diaz), Guardians pitcher Tim Herrin went to the slider one too many times and Aguilar absolutely crushed it 381 ft for a game tying 3 RBI homer.
The only way to end a 12 pitch AB?— Oakland A's (@Athletics) April 5, 2023
A game-tying 3-run HR pic.twitter.com/pPN4zhGiSN
Cleveland retook the lead in the top of the tenth inning when Will Brennan grounded out to Nick Allen and scored Andres Gimenez and Steven Kwan singled and scored Myles Straw. Cleveland had little trouble at the plate collecting 9 hits and drawing 9 walks. With the tying runs in scoring position Aledmys Diaz struck out looking and Jesus Aguilar lined out to fight field to end the game.
The biggest story of the day was errors (2) and the inability of the Oakland hitters to have any success against Cleveland starter Hunter Gaddis. In just his fourth big league start, Gaddis went 6.0 with 1 H, 2 BB and 4 SO. Both Gaddis and Muller pitched great, the difference was the timely hits by the Guardians batters that put runs up on the board early. Take away the late inning heroics and this ballgame would have been demoralizing. The A’s had their opportunities drawing 5 walks, but the lack of offensive run support (leaving seven left on base) would be a direct result that led to the loss.
Oakland (2-4) looks to rebound on the raod as they head to St Petersberg for three games against a red-hot Tampa Bay Rays team that is the last unbeaten team in the MLB. Starters Waldichuk (0-1/9.53 ERA), Fujinami (0-1/30.86 ERA) and Kaprielian (0-0/9.00 ERA) have their work cut out for them. If the offense can produce some runs, the A’s can have a shot and snapping the Rays unbeaten streak.