Paul Blackburn out to continue scoreless-innings streak vs. Cards

Apr 17, 2024, 7:24 AM | Updated: 7:26 am

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 12: Paul Blackburn #58 of the Oakland Athletics pitches during the firs...

(Photo by Loren Elliott/Getty Images)

(Photo by Loren Elliott/Getty Images)

Right-hander Paul Blackburn will attempt to continue his American League Pitcher of the Month candidacy when he and the Oakland Athletics host the St. Louis Cardinals in the finale of a three-game series on Wednesday afternoon.

Blackburn (1-0, 0.00 ERA) is the only major league pitcher to have opened the season without allowing a single run in three starts. He shut out the Cleveland Guardians over seven innings on March 31, the Detroit Tigers for six on April 6, and the Washington Nationals for 6 1/3 last Friday, allowing a total of 11 hits and three walks and striking out 11 in those 19 1/3 innings.

The A’s have won all three of the 30-year-old’s starts.

If Blackburn adds to his scoreless streak against the Cardinals, it won’t be the first time. He has faced them just once in his career, throwing seven shutout innings in an 8-0 win at St. Louis last August, striking out Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado a total of three times.

The Cardinals did not have Brandon Crawford on their roster at that point, and he has yet to play in this series for his new team.

But given the excitement of the East Bay native returning to the Bay Area for this series after he spent 13 seasons with the San Francisco Giants, Blackburn probably can expect to see the St. Louis backup shortstop on the field in the finale.

“It’s a tough role, not playing every day and not getting your timing going with the bat,” said Crawford, a free-agent signee who has gotten into just four games, going 1-for-11. “But I’m not complaining. I knew what I signed up for, and I’m trying to help out any way I can.”

Crawford, 37, has faced Blackburn seven times over their careers, going 2-for-7.

The A’s equivalent of Crawford is rookie backup catcher Kyle McCann, who played for just the fifth time Tuesday and responded with his first career home run.

“As a backup catcher, you’re playing once every five or six days,” A’s manager Mark Kotsay said. “He does everything he can to stay prepared, stay ready. To see him homer, we know he’s got that kind of pop.”

In a quick turnaround to an afternoon contest following a night game, Kotsay likely will flip back to regular starting catcher Shea Langeliers, the club leader in home runs with four.

The right-handed hitter would be matched, at least at the start, against a pitcher who hasn’t allowed a homer this season — Cardinals left-hander Steven Matz (1-0, 1.80 ERA).

The 32-year-old is coming off his roughest outing of the young season, having allowed eight hits and four runs (although just one earned) in 4 2/3 innings in a 9-6 win at Arizona last Friday. He had limited the Los Angeles Dodgers and Miami Marlins to a total of nine hits and two runs over 10 1/3 innings in his first two starts.

Having pitched all but one of his 10 seasons in the National League, Matz has faced the A’s just twice in his career, both times as a starter, and was bombed for eight runs and 16 hits in 10 innings, going 0-1 with a 7.20 ERA.

–Field Level Media

Upcoming schedule for Paul Blackburn and the Oakland Athletics

  • Monday, April 15-Wednesday, April 17th – vs. St. Louis Cardinals
  • Friday, April 19-Sunday, April 21 – @ Cleveland Guardians
  • Monday, April 22-Thursday, April 25 – @ New York Yankees
  • Friday, April 26-Sunday, April 28 – @ Baltimore Orioles

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