It was an abnormally brief outing for Oakland A’s starter Paul Blackburn tonight. But fortunately the team’s youngsters picked him up and got the win in Texas.
The A’s rotation leader didn’t have a bad night per se but he struggled to keep runners off the basepaths. In his first two innings, he allowed 8 baserunners, loaded the bases both times, and earned a pair of runs. He was out of the game after three innings and 87 pitches.
The rookies weren’t going to leave their vet hanging though. Zack Gelof started things off impressively with a true baserunning gem. Standing at second base, he took off sprinting as Ryan Noda hit a soft grounder to first that led to a throw from the first baseman to the pitcher, both turned away from home plate. By the time they realized that Gelof never stopped running, he was already feet away from home and it was too late for a meaningful throw.
THIS IS ZACK GELOF’S WORLD, AND WE’RE JUST LIVING IN IT! The young stud scores all the way from second on a groundout after some heads-up baserunning. #Athletics #RootedInOakland pic.twitter.com/hHwMdLYLl2— Uprooted (@uprootedoakland) September 9, 2023
The game then turned into the Esteury Ruiz show. First, the RISP god drove in Nick Allen from second base with a single. Next, he scoop-swinged an 80 mph curveball below the zone and made it a solo homer over the left-center field wall. That tied the game at 3-3 in the top of the 5th.
Another rookie Shea Langeliers muscled a two-run homer to almost the same spot, giving the A’s a 5-3 lead. That was extended to 6-3 as Noda hit a double in the 7th to drive in his second run of the night.
SHEA GIVES THE A'S THE LEAD pic.twitter.com/8CgHtaStns— A's on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) September 9, 2023
There were also a couple of A’s debuts out of the bullpen today, first with Easton Lucas, who the A’s acquired for Shintaro Fujinami and has never pitched in the majors before. He had a little trouble in the 4th, loading the bases but finishing the inning with just a single run allowed.
Meanwhile, Devin Sweet, a recent waiver claim from the Seattle Mariners and has a pair of major league innings under his belt, had a masterful debut. Coming in when the game was still tied, the 27-year-old righty pitched a perfect 5th and 6th with a strikeout to boot for each. He could quickly move his way up the bullpen hierarchy if he continues to perform.
Lucas Erceg, Dany Jimenez, and Trevor May closed the game out nicely and got the A’s their 44th win of the season. It also gave the team a bit more padding on their winning September record as it’s now 5-2 for the month.
The squad will look to make it 6-2 as they take on the Rangers for game two of the three-game set.