Chances are, if Ka’ai Tom is going to make his mark in the majors, it will be due to his bat or glove. The Oakland A’s reserve outfielder has intriguing potential, and could get plenty of chances to show what he can do as their fourth outfielder this season.
Right now, Tom has made an impact in 2021, but not in the way anyone would expect. Through six games, he is the only pitcher to keep the Astros off the scoreboard in the ninth inning.
Ka’ai Tom – relief pitcher extraordinaire
It is not as though Tom came into the game and threw fire. His fastball sat in the upper 60s, and he mixed in one curveball amongst his 20 pitches. Yet, those nothing balls were enough to keep Houston from piling on as he allowed just an infield single to the four batters he faced.
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Houston has had a long list of victims already this year. Reymin Guduan allowed three runs in the ninth on Opening Day, setting the tone for the Astros’ lineup. Jake Diekman allowed three runs of his own in the second game of the season as he failed to keep the game within a run. Guduan was victimized again in the third game; this time allowing four runs in his inning of work.
The A’s were not the only team that Houston victimized. Even though they lost their first game of the season on Monday, they still ended up putting a run on the board as Kyle Tucker homered off Mike Mayers. This continued on Tuesday when Carlos Correa belted a two run homer off closer Rasiel Iglesias to give the Astros the victory.
Obviously, the Astros are not going to score in every other ninth inning this season. Some pitcher, or combination of pitchers, will keep Houston off the scoreboard while recording three outs in the ninth. The streak has to come to an end sometime. But until that happens, the A’s fourth outfielder has a unique claim to fame in 2021.
Oakland A’s outfielder Ka’ai Tom is the only player to keep the Houston Astros off the scoreboard in the ninth inning this year. No one saw that coming.