Athletics' Paul Blackburn sharpens All-Star case in stellar start vs. Mariners

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Blackburn sharpens All-Star case in stellar start vs. M's originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

When the 2022 MLB All-Star Game takes place at Dodger Stadium on July 19, it’s looking more and more likely that Paul Blackburn will be representing the Athletics in the Midsummer Classic.

That seemed like a pretty remote possibility when the season began. But the 28-year-old is having a breakout year with the A’s, and his All-Star candidacy was only bolstered by another stellar performance on Saturday against the Seattle Mariners.

Though the A’s lost 2-1, Blackburn threw 6 1/3 innings of shutout baseball, allowing just four hits and striking out five. He departed the game with a 1-0 lead, but the Mariners tied the game in the eighth inning on a Justin Upton home run and then walked it off in the ninth.

“Paul had everything working today,” catcher Stephen Vogt said to reporters.

Vogt did not hesitate to name Blackburn – who has a 6-3 record with a 2.90 ERA to lead the A’s this year – as the most deserving player on the roster to earn the All-Star nod.

“Paul has been Mr. Consistency,” Vogt said. “He’s been the guy who we know every single time he’s on the mound, we have a great chance of winning that day, and he’s giving us that opportunity more often than not. So 100 percent, I believe he should be in L.A. in a couple weeks. Hopefully everybody else feels the same way.”

Manager Mark Kotsay agreed with Vogt’s assessment. In a rebuilding season for the A’s where very little has gone right on the field in terms of results, Blackburn has established himself well beyond just a rotation player.

“Paul’s been as consistent as anybody in the rotation,” Kotsay said to reporters. “I think he’s just taken this opportunity and run with it. He goes out and he’s giving us a chance to win just about every start.”

Related: Blackburn's hard work paying off, shines again in A's win

But Blackburn himself stayed humble when asked about whether he believes he will be an All-Star. He told reporters that he doesn’t think about it much, that he would rather stay focused on contributing to the team.

“We’ve been battling,” Blackburn said. “We’ve gone through some tough stretches. Everyone’s fighting. Everyone’s doing everything they can to get us out of this right now. All the outside stuff, I don’t really sit there and think about it. There’s no reason to. I have no say in what happens with anything like that. I just stay present with where I am. If that happens to be me, then I'll be grateful for it.”