The most ridiculous week in the history of the Oakland A's franchise couldn't have finished in worst fashion.
First, Nevada Gov. Joe Lombardo signed the Las Vegas stadium bill (SB1) pretty much sealing the relocation of the A's to Nevada. And then, at the Oakland Coliseum, the A's dropped the final game of their four-game homestand against the Rays by a close 4-3 score.
All of the above, mostly what took place on the field inside the Concrete Coli, wasn't really that bad. Tampa Bay (50-22) might have emerged victorious on Thursday but Oakland (19-52) make things close at the end of the fourth meeting between both teams this week. And hey, it's not easy to split a four-game series with the best team in the league, let alone the first to crack 50 wins this season.
The Rays took an early lead putting a couple of runs up in the scoreboard blamed on A's starter Paul Blackburn (0-0), who pitched 5.2 innings through the day allowing seven hits, those two runs, and one walk, but also striking out a season-high nine batters while at it.
Taj Bradley (4-3), Tampa Bay's starter on Thursday, had himself a day striking out the first six A's batter in order on his way to a career-high 11 Ks.
The first man to break Bradley's soul was Ryan Noda when he hit a single scoring Kevin Smith in the bottom of the fifth. Seth Brown followed Noda by bringing home both Tony Kemp and Esteury Ruiz with Noda advancing to second base and the A's tying the game.
The pitchers on both sides regained control in the sixth and seventh innings, with neither team able to score. The A's made a pitching change in the seventh, hoping to keep the Rays at bay, while attempting to mount a comeback victory. That, sadly, wasn't meant to be.
First, Richard Lovelady had to leave the game with an elbow injury that might put his season in peril. Then, already in the eighth frame, Luke Raley (1-for-3 up to that moment including a single and a run scored) tattoed Luke Pruitt (1-4) who ended up eating the loss.
The A's had one final chance in the bottom of the ninth to stage a comeback. However, they couldn't muster a rally, as they went down in order with a pop-out, a flyout, and a strikeout. The Rays' closer, Pete Fairbanks, sealed the victory for his team bringing their season win-tally up to 50, not even remotely followed by the MLB-second-best Orioles' record of 43 wins through 68 games.
Oakland stays home to host the Philadelphia Phillies (35-34) in a three-game homestand that starts on Friday, June 16. The A's are expected to go with JP Sears (1-3, 4.15 ERA) while the Phillies should start Taijuan Walker (6-3, 4.67 ERA). Oakland will be looking to crack the 20-win barrier, currently sitting at 19 through 71 matchups this season.