Blackburn looks to move past first speed bump of ’22

OAKLAND — The A’s have grown accustomed to watching Paul Blackburn produce a quality outing each time out this year as he’s emerged as one of the league’s top arms. That’s what made his start on Wednesday so atypical.

An ominous beginning to the game that saw Blackburn give up a leadoff double to J.P. Crawford on an 0-2 count set the tone for what was his first lackluster performance of 2022. The right-hander often pitched with traffic on the bases and seldom got away with it, allowing seven runs on 10 hits, both season highs, in the A’s 9-0 loss to the Mariners at the Coliseum.

“Tough one for Paulie. Not of the norm for him this year by any measure,” said A’s manager Mark Kotsay. “He didn’t have his best stuff. He tried to manage that lineup to get through it, but they’ve got some guys hitting really well. The result was they got him out of there a lot earlier than expected.”

Blackburn’s stellar first three months of the season have positioned him to likely receive his first career All-Star selection. Carrying the fourth-lowest ERA among American League starters entering the night at 2.26, his eight outings of at least five innings pitched with no more than one run allowed through his first 13 starts were second-most in the AL, only one behind Texas ace Martín Pérez.

Wednesday’s outing marked just the third time he’s allowed more…

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