Athletics' comeback falls short as Rangers rough up Paul Blackburn

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A's comeback falls short as Rangers rough up Blackburn originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

In his first start since his appearance at the 2022 MLB All-Star Game in Los Angeles, Paul Blackburn took the mound Sunday for the Athletics, who were looking to sweep the Texas Rangers at the Oakland Coliseum.

However, it was a rocky afternoon for the 28-year-old against Texas. Blackburn gave up three earned runs in the first inning, including a two-run home run to designated hitter Adolis García, foreshadowing the struggles ahead.

Afterward, Blackburn would settle down, but his outing went off the rails when the Rangers tacked on six runs in the top of the fifth inning, chasing the A's starter from the game.

Despite the 11-8 loss to the Rangers being the latest of recent rough starts for Blackburn, manager Mark Kotsay isn't panicking. The skipper says these stretches are expected, especially for someone in his first year as a full-time starter.

"I think, you know, guys do go through these stretches during the course of the year where they lose mechanics, where they just have tough games," Kotsay told reporters. "In Paul's case, he's had a few tough starts, but it's a long year."

"This is his first time in a rotation for a full season, and we're seeing some of the ups and downs of being a young starting pitcher that's still trying to go out and understand how to do it every fifth day and have success that way."

Although Oakland was down 10-0 at one point, it did fight back rather than roll over for the Rangers. The A's scored seven runs in the final two innings, including back-to-back-to-back homers by Sean Murphy, Chad Pinder and Tony Kemp in the ninth, but it wasn't enough as the comeback fell short. Nonetheless, Kotsay applauded his squad for not folding and showing character.

"Well, being down 10-0 going into the bottom of the fifth. We could have folded up tent there and kind of just gone home," Kotsay added.

"It shows the character of this club. They continue to take good at-bats and made it a baseball game, at least made it exciting. ... And they didn't quit. They kept fighting."

RELATED: Cardinals' Kyler Murray reacts to contract comparison with Athletics' payroll

On Monday, Oakland will open up a three-game series at home against the rival Houston Astros, who own the second-most wins in the American League (64) and a 13-game lead in the AL West.