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TB 3, OAK 4: A’s stay red hot, blowing past Rays

Rays were unable to match A’s pitching or timely hitting, as they drop series opener in Oakland

Tampa Bay Rays v Oakland Athletics Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

The Rays showed up on the west coast continuing their road woes, playing yet another uninspiring road performance. Meanwhile, their hosts in Oakland are just playing great baseball, winning their 6th straight game.

One big inning from Oakland to break Eflin, and the one brief spark of offense for the Rays in the form of a 2-out bomb from Siri. Other than that, just sparkling pitching kept the bats for both sides off balance and off the scoreboard.

Starting with the pitching for the Rays, Zach Eflin looked like he was set to put on a show. And he did...through 4 innings. Zach Eflin had given up just two weak singles, no walks, and was cruising with a shutout. And then, in the 5th, the wheels completely fell off.

Walk, walk, single, forceout, and then a bases-clearing double quickly broke the 0-0 score. Another base knock chased Eflin from the game. Just like that, what was a fairly dominant outing turned into a disaster within minutes, and that’s just how baseball can be sometimes.

The Rays offense were scuffling all evening, unable to quite figure out the 7.21 ERA and 5.77 FIP James Kaprelian. Easily one of his best starts of his young career, especially factoring in the Rays success on the year.

In the 6th, that frustration came to a boil when Isaac Paredes got sent off after questioning what was going through the umpire’s choice of strike call.

The A’s are still a mess of a club, and of course, blew a golden opportunity to let Kaprelian leave with a high. But instead, Oakland manager Mark Kotsay allowed Kaprelian to keep pitching 3rd time through the order, pushing 90 pitches, and even after a 4-pitch walk to Josh Lowe showcased his command starting to slip away. After falling behind again to Jose Siri, Kaprelian had to come into the zone with a tasty pitch that was not missed.

After that the A’s turned to Ken Waldichuck, he of another 7 ERA (to pair with a 7.02 FIP), who proceeded to absolutely dominate the last 3 innings of the game for the save.

Vidal Bruján has had a brutally frustrating major league career. Filled with so much potential, and so many missed opportunities. In tonight's game, Bruján finally got on base with a sharp grounder to 1st that got bobbled. Golden opportunity to finally utilize his speed and stolen base ability, right?

Well, one would think, but unfortunately, Bru spent the next two full at-bats still at first. No attempts at a steal, and some aggressive leads, but that’s it. Harold Ramirez with 2 outs got a patented Harold hit of a grounder single up the middle. And due to Bruján’s passive play, his speed was only used to go 1st to 3rd, still needing another base knock to drive him in and tie the game.

That base knock never came and the Rays missed their shot at making a comeback.

Tip your cap to the Athletics on this night, because they played a great game and honestly shoved the Rays club around all evening.