The A’s lost their seventh straight game tonight, losing a close game to the Cleveland Guardians 7-6 in a back-and-fifth affair.
Righty Paul Blackburn got his fifth start of the season today, taking on a Cleveland team struggling offensively but still right in the thick of the playoff hunt. He was opposed by the Guardians’ top prospect Gavin Williams, who was making his MLB debut.
It was quiet over the first couple innings as both pitchers traded zeros while allowing a base runner here and there. Were us fans in store for a pitching duel today?
No. Oakland broke the scoring open in a big way with a 4-run third. Three straight hits opened the inning, with Esteury Ruiz knocking in the first run of the day:
Next up was fellow rookie Ryan Noda and he capped the rally off with a big home run to extend the Oakland lead:
Staked to a four-run lead, Blackburn could keep the momentum going with a 1-2-3 shutdown inning. A leadoff walk to the ninth batter wasn’t a good start and four straight singles cut the lead in half, with the bases still loaded and no outs. The A’s needed Blackburn to lock in and limit the damage and that’s just what he did, allowing just a sac fly and nothing else to escape the frame. While the lead was now only one, it felt like a win to still have the lead at all after that inning.
Pauly B had a better fourth inning but things continued to trend down in the fifth for the former All-Star. A leadoff triple and RBI single tied this game. Again he finally wiggled out of trouble but the game was tied and Blackburn was at 90 pitches. That wound up being it for the righty as Mark Kotsay turned to the bullpen for the sixth inning.
-Paul Blackburn: 5 IP, 9 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 7 K, 90 pitches
Not the best start from him but Blackburn did a nice job not letting things spin out of control when Cleveland had him on the ropes. His season ERA now stands at 4.21 after five starts but it feels like he’s been worth a lot more for the pitching staff than just his ERA. His next start should come next week at home against the Yankees, a big test.
Lucas Erceg came on for the sixth and had a scoreless appearance, and with the Guardians starter getting yanked, it was now a bullpen game. And with Williams out of the game, the A’s bats finally got back to it.
The A’s jumped on the first man out of the Cleveland ‘pen, scoring twice in the seventh inning to retake the lead. Three straight one-out singles gave Oakland the lead as Ruiz got his second RBI single of the day:
And with another runner in scoring position, Seth Brown got in on the action with his own RBI knock to push the lead to two:
Again, the A’s had the lead.
And again, the club couldn’t secure a shutdown inning. Sam Long came in for the seventh and gave up a solo shot to make it 6-5, and Austin Pruitt followed him in the eighth and gave up two runs that gave the Guardians the late lead.
Facing one of the best closers in all of baseball, the A’s came extremely close to getting this game tied right back up, getting two runners in scoring position with just one out. A fly ball would have tied this game up but instead a strikeout and fly out ended the game and secured another loss for the club.
So that’s seven straight losses after seven straight wins. Not exactly how one would think they’d respond after the positive vibes from the win streak but more in line with how they’ve been playing this year. On the plus side the offense scored their most runs in over a week and Blackburn was solid enough. If the bullpen does its job the A’s snap this losing streak.
They’ll have another chance to snap this skid tomorrow morning in the series finale. Lefty JP Sears is scheduled to get the ball to start the game and he’ll be opposed by fellow rookie Logan Allen. Thursdays are always a good day to snap a losing streak.