Paul Blackburn threw 6 2/3 strong innings to improve to 4-0 as the Oakland A’s beat the Detroit Tigers 2-0 on Monday night to snap a season-high nine-game losing streak.
Tony Kemp hit a solo home run in the third and Chad Pinder added an RBI single in the fourth, which was all the offense the A’s needed to end their streak.
Blackburn gave up four hits and struck out three before leaving in the seventh inning. Despite walking two batters, rookie Dany Jiménez escaped damage and earned his fifth save to finish off the four-hitter.
The Tigers, who managed just four hits and have been shut out in two consecutive games, have lost six in a row and 13 of their last 15.
Michael Pineda (1-2) took the loss, despite allowing only two runs on six hits in 6 2/3 innings.
Javier Báez and manager AJ Hinch were ejected after arguing balls and strikes in the ninth after Báez was called out on strikes.
The A’s’ losing streak was their eighth of at least nine games since 1978 and their longest since the club dropped 10 in a row from May 30-June 9, 2011 under manager Mark Kotsay’s predecessor, Bob Melvin.
Oakland’s last two wins also came in shutouts as the A’s blanked the Rangers 2-0 on April 24 and beat the Giants 1-0 thanks to a leadoff home run from Pinder on April 27. The victory against the Giants was keyed by another stellar effort from Blackburn as the right-hander tossed five innings of three-hit ball. Blackburn needed three early double plays to keep the Giants off the board in that game, but he received ample help from his bullpen as five relievers combined to hold San Francisco without a hit over the final four innings of that game at Oracle Park.
Since beating the Orioles 6-4 at the Coliseum on April 21, the A’s have been held to two runs or fewer in 11 of their last 15 games.
Oakland only finished with six hits in Monday’s series-opener, but three were for extra bases as third baseman Kevin Smith hit a two-out triple in the second inning before Kemp launched his first home run of the season on an 0-1 changeup in the third inning. Catcher Sean Murphy led off the fourth with a double and later scored on Pinder’s RBI single.
Another strong start from Blackburn, who is quickly emerging as the A’s leading All-Star candidate, was critical for the A’s as the team only had one hit after the fourth inning. That lone hit was a single from Luis Barrera, who made his 2022 debut in Detroit after Oakland designated Billy McKinney for assignment on Monday.
Barrera, who started in right field, also drew a walk against Detroit.
Rookie Cristian Pache, who made the final out of Sunday’s 4-3 loss to the Twins, had the day off while Ramón Laureano, who returned from a 80-game PED suspension against Minnesota, started in center field.
The A’s will have two chances to snap out of their offensive funk on Tuesday as they play a doubleheader against the Tigers. Oakland will turn to right-hander Frankie Montas (2-2, 3.44 in Game 1 against Hayward, Calif. native Tarik Skubal. Montas is 4-2 with a 5.01 ERA in seven career appearances, including six starts, against Detroit. He was 2-0 with a 2.13 ERA in two starts last year.
In Game 2, right-hander Adrian Martinez (0-0, 0.00) is expected to make his major league debut. With Triple-A Las Vegas, Martinez is 0-2 with a 7.45 ERA in five starts.
The A’s bullpen should be fresh as right-hander Zack Jackson recorded the final out of the seventh inning and all three outs in the eighth before Kotsay handed the ball to Jimenez for the ninth. The rookie right-hander has been impressive in limited chances in the closer role this season, as he has yet to allow a run this season while racking up 14 strikeouts –including three against the Tigers on Monday– over 12 innings.