Looking to end a five-game slide, the A’s nearly did it with 6 scoreless innings to start the game. Lo and behold, the bullpen couldn’t hold on and the A’s still have not won a game since the reverse boycott.
Opening for the A’s, southpaw rookie Ken Waldichuk pitched a relatively clean 5 outs against a lefty-heavy Guardians lineup. Although he allowed a couple of doubles to Steven Kwan and Will Brennan, he put down the rest of Cleveland’s top 7 in relatively short order. Throwing just 27 pitches, Waldy struck out 2 without walking anyone, getting the ball to another rookie, Luis Medina, with one out left in the 2nd.
With the game scoreless, the A’s were able to strike first, albeit softly, in the top of the 3rd. With Tony Kemp at third and Esteury Ruiz at first with one out on the board, Ryan Noda chopped a bouncy enough grounder off Aaron Civale to get Kemp home and to score the A’s first run.
Medina kept the momentum going by pitching an almost scoreless 4.1 innings. Maintaining Waldichuk’s efficiency, it only took him 69 pitches to get the A’s to the 7th inning with a shot to win the ballgame. Not only did he strike out 4, some on his triple-digit fastball, he only allowed 4 hits and one walk, a happy outcome for a sometimes wild pitcher.
Carrying a one-run lead since the 3rd, Kemp sparked the offense once again. Facing Civale, who’d been pitching quite a good game thus far, the lefty veteran followed a 79 mph curveball to the inside bottom corner of the strike zone and launched it just over the right field wall. The solo homer doubled the A’s lead to 2-0.
Unfortunately, the A’s couldn’t quite hang on to that slim margin. Medina, who had the chance to potentially pitch through the 7th, immediately allowed a leadoff double to Myles Straw, effectively ending his strong night. Replacing him was southpaw Sam Moll, who got the next two lefty batters out. However, the first righty he faced, Amed Rosario, punched a 2-out ground ball single into left to score Straw and make it a 2-1 game. All-star Jose Ramirez then tied it up with a line-drive double to score Rosario from 1st. It could’ve been a single, but left fielder Seth Brown gambled on a dive to catch the ball, which dropped right in front of his glove before bouncing right over and past it. The mistake was costly and erased the A’s lead and Medina’s potential win.
Sam Long and Shintaro Fujinami combined for a nice pair of scoreless innings to get the game to overtime. In the top of the 10th, with Shea Langeliers serving as the ghost runner on 2nd, the A’s battled through a few tough at bats against Enyel De Los Santos. An especially tough call was made on Ryan Noda: a 3-2 four-seam fastball directly on the inside bottom corner that could’ve been called either way but ended up as a K. Oakland left the inning with nothing to show for it.
Trevor May entered the bottom of the 10th looking to steer clear of a walkoff. With the game now being reduced to run prevention at all costs, the A’s intentionally walked the leadoff man to hopefully set up a double play. Instead, Tyler Freeman dropped a perfect sacrifice bunt that drew the both corners of the infield in. Jace Peterson, lacking a play at 1st, shot the ball to third in hopes of getting Jose Ramirez out but it was late by half-a-second. Bases were now loaded with no outs on the board and Andres Gimenez looped a ball deep down the right-field foul line, which would’ve likely been a bases-clearing double but only counted for one run as the Guardians walked it off.
The Streak, now at 6 losses, lives on. The A’s will look it to kill it for good tomorrow as All-Star Paul Blackburn faces off against the Guardians’ top prospect, Gavin Williams, in his major league debut.