Blackburn’s first real test comes after rough outing in A’s loss originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
Paul Blackburn, without a doubt, has been the Athletics’ ace on the mound this season.
Unfortunately for Oakland, the 28-year-old right-hander wasn’t sharp in the A’s 8-0 loss to the Boston Red Sox on Saturday at the Coliseum.
In fact, it was his worst start of the 2022 season, which says a lot, given that he surrendered just four runs through four innings pitched. Certainly not the end of the world.
For a struggling A’s offense, though, it seemed insurmountable.
As of right now, Blackburn has a shot to be Oakland’s sole representative in the MLB All-Star Game on July 19. That is, of course, if he continues to pitch like the first-half ace he is.
But even aces struggle from time to time, and a blip is far from concerning.
“Well, it’s a long season. You’re going to have a bad start,” A’s manager Mark Kotsay said of the Blackburn postgame. “Even the good guys have bad starts. So, for me, what we looked for today was his mix again, being able to locate that fastball to both sides. Pitching in is important.”
Blackburn will be the first to say that his command was an issue against Boston.
“My command was a little erratic today,” Blackburn told reporters after the game. “I think just location on my fastball today was kind of all over the place. I felt good with my breaking stuff – I felt my curveball was pretty good today, I threw some pretty good sliders, but fastball-wise today, I felt like I was just all over the place. “
Deploying a six-pitch repertoire that consists of a four-seam fastball, cutter, changeup, curve, sinker and slider, it’s Blackburn’s curve that has proven to be a difference-maker this season. On Saturday, he just didn’t have it.
“I feel like earlier in the year I was struggling to land a curveball,” Blackburn said. “I think I was overthrowing or[it)[wasjustvisualbutIfeltthattodaymycurveballhasbeenapitchthathasworkedwellformethisyearIfeellikeit’sworkedbetteragainstleftiesbutasoflateIfeellikeI’vegottenbetterfeelforleftiesandrightieswithit”[it)[wasjustvisualbutIfeltthattodaymycurveballhasbeenapitchthathasworkedwellformethisyearIfeellikeit’sworkedbetteragainstleftiesbutasoflateIfeellikeI’vegottenbetterfeelforleftiesandrightieswithit”
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There’s a reason to believe the A’s really do have an electric one-two punch atop their rotation with Blackburn and presumed 2022 ace Frankie Montas. Blackburn’s response to his worst outing of the season, though, will be the ultimate test.