Tampa Bay Rays’ Mike Zunino gestures after hitting a two-run home run against the Oakland Athletics in the top of the ninth inning at the Oakland Coliseum on Tue May 3, 2022 (AP News photo)
Tampa Bay. 10. 14. 0
Oakland 7. 10. 0
Tuesday May 3, 2022
By Lewis Rubman
OAKLAND–The only consolation that the Athletics could salvage from last night’s debacle was their incredibly fine performance of their relievers, which hurled five innings without a blotch on its echelon. One runner reached first on an error, and that was it.
Lou Trivino once was a stalward of the A’s bullpen. He hasn’t been one this year, and the team hoped he change that situation with his return from the covid list, which was announced before game time. He didn’t.
Tonight the Athletics put their faith in their starter, Paul Blackburn. He’d justified that faith so far this season, going 3-0, 1.35 in his four starts, striking out 18 oppoints and walking only two. The only fly in that particular ointment is that the 6’1″, 195 lb. righty went five–no more, no less–innings in each and every appearance. In his first of the season, he held Tampa Bay runless on three hits over his quintet of frames.
The Rays chose southpaw Ryan Yarbrough to face the hometown crew in his first start of the season, in St. Petersburg on April 12, but tightness in his left groin kept him out of action and on the injured list until today.
The game started inauspiciously for the Oakland nine. Yandy Díaz led off with a nubber down the third base line that Kevin Smith couldn’t come up with. The ball bounced off the bag, and Díaz made it to first with a single.
Smith, playing in the shift, fielded Wander Franco’s grounder to the right of second and tagged Díaz out. But Franco had tied the A’s third baseman long enough for Franco to arrive safely at first. Brando Lowe’s two double to right center put the Rays ahead before Manuel Margot popped out to short to end the inning.
Oakland came back with a vengeance in its half of the frame. Chad Pinder beat out Franco’s throw from short for an infield single. He moved up to second on Sheldon Neuse’s walk. Jed Lowrie smacked a hard line drive to Randy Arozarena in left, who dropped it but recovered quickly enough to force Pinder out at third.
Sean Murphy popped out to first for the second out. Stephen Piscottty’s walk loaded the bases, and Christian. Bethancourt’s walk forced in Neuse and left the basepaths clogged.
That set the stage for Smith to redeem his two misplays in the top of the inning. He took an 84mph cutter 381 feet deep, into the left field bleachers for the first home run of the season, a grand slam that put Oakand up, 5-1.
Kevin Kiermaier’s lead off single, followed an out later by Brett Phillips 419 foot blast in right center off of an 85mph changeup closed that margin to 5-3 after two.
With Piscotty and Bethancourt on base with none out in the bottom of the third, Yarbrough caught Smith looking at a third strike and then left the game, relieved by his namesake Ryan Thompson. Tampa Bay’s starter had lasted 2-1/3 episodes, allowing five runs, all earned, on six hits, including Smith’s grand slam,three walks and a hit batter.
He threw 56 pitches, 32 of which qualified as strikes. Thompson got out of the inning without allowing the A’s to do further damage.
Blackburn had to face some more troubles in the fourth. It wasn’t as bad as what he’d faced in the previous inning, when he’d stymied the Rays after Arozarena’s one out triple. Now he had to deal with a one out double by Taylor Walls. He solved that problem by picking off the Floridian runner in a long rundown and striking out Phillips.
Thompson pitched 1-1/3 innings and did it well, not allowing anyone to reach base safely and fanning one. Jeffrey Springscame and ended the frame by striking out Lowrie.
Blackburn’s streak of four consecutive outings of five innings was shattering in the fifth. Zach Jackson relieved him with Díaz on first with a walk and one man out. Franco greeted the newcomer with a single to right that sent the runner to third. But Arozarena smacked a grounder that Andrus turned into a nifty 6-4-3 twin killing.
Blackburn left having thrown 64 pitches, 42 for strikes. The three runs scored against him were earned, and he allowed six hits and a walk. He struck out five. His ERA rose but only to a still more than respectable 2.22.
Manager Kotsay called on AJ Puck for Tampa Bay’s sixth. He sailed through both that and seventh frame; he struck out two of the six batters he faced. None reached base. Danny Jiménez relieved him, pitching a spotless eighth.
Matt Wisler took over after Spring´s successful 3-1/3 inning intervention.during which he held the A’s to two singles.
It now was up to Kirby Snead to face the Rays’ number four, five, and six hitters to save the game for the A’s. Except that Isaac Paredes pinch hit for the cleanup man, Lowe.
He worked a full count, but Snead got him to fly out to Billy McKinnie, who had pinch hit for Bethancourt and now was playing in right field. Margot reached first on a single to center. Mike Zunino, batting all of .106, lofted a 402 foot blast over the State Farm sign in left center, tying the game at five.
After Taylor singled to right and advanced to second on Phillips’ ground out to first, Trivino got a chance to prove his worth. He would have pitched to number nine hitter René Pinto, but it was pinch hitting Harold Ramírez who grounded out to Andrius to end the inning.
Andrew Kitteridge took over in the ninth to preserve the tie and send the game into extra innings, retiring the bottom third of the Oakland lineup in order.
Trivino remained on the mound in the top of the tenth, with Ramírez on second as the zombie runner. Soon it was Díaz on second, after Tampa Bay´s first sacker doubled off the Craftsman sign in right center, driving Ramírez home with the leading run. Franco then was granted an intentional pass to first.
He and Díaz moved up a bag on Arozaren’s slow ground out, Andrus to Seth Brown, now at first after having pinch hit for Piscotty in the eighth. The A’s pulled in the infield for a possible play at the plate. Paredes lifted a single to left over the drawn in fielders to bring in the two runners.
Then Margot smacked a triple to left center to bring Paredes home. Zunino drove in Margot for another tally, and, just like that, Justin Grimm was on the mound, facing Taylor Walls and trailing 10-5. Grimm retired Walls on a pop to third and then walked Phillips, but retired Ramírez to end Oakland´s misery.
Jason Adam was the last hurler on the mound for the visitors, starting the tenth with Pache placed on second, by fanning Plnder. Hope sprang eternal in the breasts of the 2,815 diehards in the stands when Neuse doubled to drive Pache in, making the score the score 10-6.
After Nuese reached third on Lowrie’s groundout to first, Murphy’s seeing eye broken bat single to left made it 10-7. Brown worked a full count before grounding out to short to end a most disappointing failure.
The win went to Kittridge, his second against. no defeats, for his inning of work. The loss, of course, was charged to Trivino, who, in a mere 2/3 of an inning allowed five runs, four of them earned on four hits and a walk. It took him 20 pitches to do this, lowering his won-lost record to 0-2 and raising his ERA to 12.46.
The series concludes Wednesday afternoon at 12:37 with A’s starter Frankie Montás (2-2 ERA 4.25) facing Corey Kluber (1-1ERA 3.50)