After being held scoreless for eight innings, the Cleveland Guardians saved their best for last, scoring three runs in the ninth inning to erase a 2-0 deficit and rally past the Oakland A’s.
A’s starting pitcher Paul Blackburn dominated the Guardians, limiting them to four hits and one walk over eight scoreless innings. He was throwing his curveball and sinker for strikes, and Cleveland struggled to made good contact on balls in play. Of the four hits he surrendered, José Ramírez was responsible for two of them, both of which were opposite field doubles.
Oakland did Cleveland a favor removing Blackburn ahead of the ninth inning in favor of Dany Jimenez. José Ramírez set the tone, launching a leadoff homer off Jimenez to cut the A’s lead to 2-1. Josh Naylor followed with a walk before being removed in favor of Oscar Mercado as pinch runner. Oscar Gonzalez lined a double past the outstretched glove of third baseman Kevin Smith to put runners on second and third with no out. Oakland opted to load the bases by intentionally walking Andrés Giménez, setting the stage for Owen Miller to tie the game on a sac fly.
With the score tied, left-hander Sam Moll was brought in to face Steven Kwan. Kwan chopped a grounder to shortstop but Giménez, running from first base, beat the throw to second, loading the bases again with one out. Luke Maile stepped to the plate and fell behind in the count, 0-2, but was able to sky a sac fly to right field to score the go-ahead run.
It was an adrenaline-pumping finish to an otherwise ho-hum game.
Triston McKenzie had another interesting outing. Both runs he allowed came courtesy of solo home runs, continuing the trend from his last start. But that was all the damage McKenzie allowed over six innings of work. He allowed five hits and two walks, striking out six. Nick Sandlin, Trevor Stephan, and Anthony Gose combined to hold the A’s scoreless over the final three frames.
Stephan gets a shoutout for the most casual catch of a 110 mph liner that I’ve ever seen:
The Guardians’ comeback sent the last-place A’s to their 10th straight loss.