The Oakland Athletics will look to end their five-game losing streak and avoid being swept by the visiting Tampa Bay Rays when the teams conclude their three-game series on Wednesday.
A’s starter Frankie Montas (2-2, 4.25 ERA) has gone 2-1 with a 2.36 ERA with 26 strikeouts and just four walks in 26 2/3 innings against the Rays. The right-hander held the Rays to two runs — one earned — on just five hits with six strikeouts and no walks in 6 1/3 innings to pick up the win in a 4-2 victory on April 13.
Montas will be opposed by Oakland right-hander Corey Kluber (1-1, 3.05), who was terrific in his most recent start. He held the Minnesota Twins to a run on one hit to go along with six strikeouts in six innings during a 6-1 win last Friday.
But Kluber, a two-time American League Cy Young award winner with Cleveland, has been effective against the A’s throughout his career, even if his 2-4 mark doesn’t indicate it.
In nine appearances — eight starts — spanning 51 innings while pitching for Cleveland, he has a 2.29 ERA with 51 strikeouts and 14 walks against the A’s. However, he hasn’t faced Oakland since 2018.
After Tampa Bay opened the series with a 6-1 win on Monday, the Rays had to rally to earn the victory Tuesday.
Mike Zunino’s pinch-hit, two-run homer in the ninth inning set up a five-run 10th inning to lift Tampa Bay to a 10-7 win.
Tampa Bay got an RBI double by Yandy Diaz, a two-run single by Isaac Paredes, Manuel Margot’s triple to center, and Zunino’s single in the 10th to score the deciding runs.
Andrew Kittredge pitched a scoreless ninth to earn the win, while Diaz, Margot, Zunino and Taylor Walls each had two hits for the Rays.
Tampa Bay’s Wander Franco, who is playing in his first full major-league season, has gone 6-for-16 in his past four games, though he missed Sunday’s loss to the Minnesota Twins due to a leg-muscle issue.
Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said he is confident Franco’s health won’t be an issue.
“I think we all have to learn,” Cash said. “So yeah, I think he does. I do. Even the veteran guys have to learn. Your body sometimes tells you things that you don’t want to hear. And you have to be responsive and respectful of that.”
Meantime, Oakland has problems of its own — scoring. The A’s jumped to a 5-1 lead on Tuesday thanks to a five-run first inning that was highlighted by Kevin Smith’s first career grand slam.
But Oakland didn’t score again until the 10th inning when it trailed 10-5 before getting an RBI double from Sheldon Neuse and a run-scoring single by Sean Murphy.
“Offensively, we’re in a bit of a funk,” Oakland manager Mark Kotsay said. “I think overall as a group, a lot of guys are probably pressing … You look at the quality of the at-bats, and you still feel like they’re still competing, you know. It’s just … we’re not getting the results right now.”
–Field Level Media