In just their 21st win of the year (reminder: it’s almost July), staff leader Paul Blackburn and the Oakland A’s bullpen put on a show against the team’s longtime enemy, the New York Yankees.
Starting with Blackburn, appearing in just his sixth game of the season, threw 90 pitches over 5 1⁄3 innings to secure the win. Throughout his outing, he displayed the All-Star command that we’ve come to expect from him, walking only one batter. Unfortunately, that last batter was his last before Mark Kotsay pulled him from the game. But prior to that point, he’d struck out 5 batters and only allowed 4 hits. His only mistake being a hanging slider in the 5th inning that former A’s star Josh Donaldson launched to deep left field. Guess he’s not retiring after all.
Following Blackburn, the A’s bullpen brigade took care of business, shutting out New York for the last 3 2⁄3 innings. Lucas Erceg continued his breakout season by finishing the 5th and 6th innings, striking out 3 batters along the way. Trevor May allowed a couple of walks, which has become typical for him, but he still got out of the inning without any damage done.
Finally, Sam Moll came in for the 9th and earned the one-run save, the first of his career. He ran into a little trouble after allowing a leadoff single to Gleyber Torres and a challenged infield single — which was upheld — to Anthony Volpe. With 2 runners on and 1 out to go, Moll got Kyle Higashioka swinging on a nice sweeper to the outside corner of the zone to end the game and secure the win.
It was a great day for the pitching staff but the A’s don’t get this win without a couple of clutch hits from Esteury Ruiz and Seth Brown. Despite being moved to the bottom of the lineup, Ruiz has not lost his RISP touch. Coming up to the plate in the 3rd inning with Tyler Wade at third base, the speedster drove a first-pitch sinker into left to score the A’s first run.
And of course, he stole second base right away, his 40th of the season! He went for his 41st steal a couple of batters later but was caught to end the inning.
In the bottom of the 4th, Brownie scored what ended up being the winning run. After taking a changeup outside the zone from Yankees rookie Jhony Brito, the outfielder drove a middle-in 95 mph sinker right above the scoreboard in right field. Conveniently, there were also a few loud signs right in that spot.
With that solo shot, the A’s went up 2-0 before the aforementioned Donaldson homer made it a 2-1 game. Oakland is now 21-60 on the season and will look to get their 22nd win tomorrow as JP Sears takes on Domingo German.