The Oakland A’s are having a mostly miserable season but do have some players playoff-contending teams might be interested in acquiring prior to Tuesday’s MLB trade deadline.
One could be right-handed starting pitcher Paul Blackburn.
Backed by a suddenly potent offense, Blackburn on Saturday allowed two earned runs over six innings to help the Athletics earn an 11-3 win over the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field.
“Paul did a great job tonight. It’s probably the best we’ve seen him,” A’s manager Mark Kotsay said. “In this field, you’re going to scatter some hits and it’s just about limiting the damage, and I thought he did a great job in six innings.
“After the fifth, I thought he was a little gassed. I talked to him and he wanted the sixth inning, and he went out there and showed why.”
Making his 11th start this season, Blackburn (2-2) gave up nine hits in a 106-pitch, six-inning outing for Oakland. He struck out seven and walked none.
“Tonight, we moved the ball well, used every pitch in every count,” Blackburn said. “I felt like we kind of kept them off balance all night and created a lot of soft contact.”
Zack Gelof and Brent Rooker each homered in a five-run second inning that helped carry the Athletics to their fifth win in their last 10 games, as they’ll look to sweep the series with the Rockies on Sunday.
“The guys came into Colorado knowing how the ball flies but not trying to do too much, just kind of staying within their approach and putting simple swings, simple approaches together and having good quality team at bats and passing it on to the next guy,” Rooker said. “That’s shown with the hits and runs we’ve put up the last two days.”
Blackburn, an Antioch native and a 2022 MLB All-Star, isn’t set to become a free agent until 2026 but is eligible for arbitration again this offseason and could be due a raise from the $1.9 million he’s making this season.
This year, since he’s returned from cracked fingernail and blister issues that cost him the first two months of the season, Blackburn has a 4.83 ERA in 54 innings, collecting 56 strikeouts to go with 18 walks.
Blackburn’s strikeout totals could make him an attractive target for contending teams. Other A’s players who could be on the move are pending unrestricted free agents Tony Kemp and closer Trevor May.
“I’ve kind of been around the trade deadline my whole career,” Blackburn told MLB.com earlier this month. “I’m here and I want to be here. I love these guys. I really do. I would fight for every single guy in here. It’s a big family in here and this is where I want to be. As far as the trade deadline, it hasn’t crept into my mind at all.”
Rooker finished with three RBIs, two from his 17th home run of the season and a sacrifice fly. Ramón Laureano’s two-run double highlighted Oakland’s four-run sixth inning and Seth Brown had three hits and a pair of RBIs as the A’s ended the night one run shy of their season high.
Randal Grichuk had three hits for the Rockies, including a solo homer in the bottom of the eighth inning off Tayler Scott.
The Rockies trailed 6-0 before putting up their first run on Michael Toglia’s RBI single in the second inning. They added a second run on C.J. Cron’s slow roller down the third base line that scored Ryan McMahon from third in the third inning.
But Oakland added four runs in the in the sixth and another in the seventh.
Gelof, who reached on a passed ball third strike in the first before scoring on Seth Brown’s sacrifice fly, homered for the second time in two games on a 2-0 offering from Newark native Chris Flexen, making his Rockies debut after having his contract selected from Triple A Albuquerque earlier in the day. JJ Bleday was hit by a pitch ahead of Rooker’s drive over the center-field wall.
Flexen (0-5) went 3 2/3 innings and gave up six runs on four hits. He walked six and struck out four.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.