The Oakland Athletics just can't get out of their never-ending funk. Make it eight losses in a row for the A's, who have yet to reach 20 games this season. Oakland (19-58) is inching dangerously close to losing 60 games before the end of this week, let alone through June, with their latest loss arriving on Thursday as they dropped a 1-6 matchup to the Cleveland Guardians (36-38).
Cleveland swept the A's in this week's three-game series after already defeating them (2-1) in their first head-to-head matchup of the year more than two months ago. It's the 11th series lost by Oakland this season, and their second in a row after falling to the Philadelphia Phillies three consecutive times last weekend.
The game remained scoreless until the top of the fifth inning when Tony Kemp walked and eventually scored on a sacrifice fly by Aledmys Diaz, giving the A's a 1-0 lead.
It took a pitcher's change in order for that to happen, mind you, with the Guardians moving on from Logan Allen after four innings replacing him with Nick Sandlin only for the latter to struggle off the bullpen allowing Oakland to take the lead for a brief minute.
A few feet longer, and the sac-fly would have turned into a two-run homer preventing the Guardians from taking the lead themselves in the bottom of the fifth. Alas. Cleveland took no time to come back with a strong answer and Josh Bell (500th career RBI) bagged a solo home run, tying the game at 1-1 off JP Sears' (1-5) hand. Andres Gimenez followed with a single and later scored on a triple by Myles Straw. The Guardians took the lead and never relinquished it.
Speaking of starter JP Sears, he had a relatively passable game on Thursday pitching a season-high seven full innings while allowing two runs on four hits while striking out eight Guardians. As many as 75% of Sears' total 106 pitches were called for strikes, surely a nice number on a day in which he hit the pen tatted and definitely not morally unscathed.
The worst was yet to come, though, and what could have been a day to remember in celebration turned into a nightmare for the main character of the story: newly acquired reliever Yacksel Rios. Rios entered the game in replacement of Sears to get things going in the eighth and he proceeded to bury all hopes for an A's comeback in a hurry and in ugly fashion.
Rios started his tenure clad in Athletics gear by walking Gabriel Arias, allowing a single to Myles Straw (Arias reached third base), then walking Cam Gallagher on a wild pitch (Arias scores, Straw to second), then handing a single to Steven Kwan, then forcing a run in by walking Amed Rosario, then another one walking Jose Ramirez, and finally striking out Josh Naylor.
To be fair, it was Rios debut with the A's and his first MLB game pitched since 2021.
To be honest, it was one of the worst debuts ever for a new organization by a pitcher with major-league experience under his belt.
Rios completed an inning before leaving the field having thrown 44 pitches (more than half of them, 24, called for balls) allowing four runs on two hits and four walks (three of them walk-ins) including a wild pitch. Ugh.
In the ninth inning, Eli Morgan replaced Enyel De Los Santos as the Guardians' pitcher to secure the win and the sweep putting out Carlos Perez, Brent Rooker, and Jace Peterson in order. The loss goes to Sears, the win goes to Nick Sandlin, and there was no save on the day.
Oakland takes no time off as they fly north of the border to face the Toronto Blue Jays (41-35) in a three-game series kicking off Friday. The A's are expected to deploy James Kaprielian (2-6, 6.38 ERA) with the Blue Jays using Chris Bassitt (7-5, 4.16) to get things going.
The Blue Jays are currently boasting an even 5-5 record in ther last 10 games while they've been outscored by 15 runs in that span. The A's are on a 2-8 skid since they last won a game back in June 13, aka Reverse Boycott Day, with a run differential of minus-16 in their last 10 outings.