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A’s face hard-throwing prospect in series opener vs. Rays

Sportsnaut
Apr 6, 2022; St. Petersburg, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Luis Patino (61) throws against the Philadelphia Phillies in the first inning during spring training at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

After giving new manager Mark Kotsay his first career win, the Oakland A’s may find the second leg of their 10-game road trip even tougher this week.

Oakland will play its fourth game of the road swing Monday night when it faces the undefeated Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg, Fla. — the first of four matchups against the defending American League East champions.

The A’s won Sunday’s final game in Philadelphia, 4-1, after dropping the first two.

“Sorry for the delay, there was a little beer bath,” Kotsay explained as his postgame presser started a little late. “I haven’t had one of those since my rookie year (as a player).”

Another of the A’s who likely enjoyed his weekend in south Philly was reliever Zach Jackson, who made his major-league debut in Saturday’s 4-2 loss.

In front of nearly 42,000 fans at Citizens Bank Park, the 27-year-old Tulsa, Okla., native was booed loudly as he came out to pitch the eighth inning after the home team earlier swatted three homers off Oakland lefty Cole Irvin, a former Philadelphia elite prospect.

Jackson used 16 pitches in his scoreless frame, striking out one and allowing just one batter to reach base, by a walk.

“It was everything I hoped it would be,” the right-handed Jackson said. “You don’t play in stadiums like that (in the minors). The crowd here has obviously been incredible.”

Jackson, Dany Jimenez and A.J. Puk are relievers who are expected to get key outs late in games when called on by Kotsay.

In Monday’s opener in Florida, the skipper will send out Paul Blackburn, who was 1-4 with a 5.87 ERA across nine starts in 2021. The right-hander will be facing the Rays for the first time.

Hard-throwing Luis Patino will start for the Rays, and manager Kevin Cash is excited about the growth in the 22-year-old Colombian hurler’s game.

Last season, Shane McClanahan and Patino were instrumental in Tampa Bay’s run to its second straight title in the majors’ toughest division.

In the absence of injured Tyler Glasnow, the lefty McClanahan assumed the staff ace role in a season in which he won 10 games in 25 starts. Meanwhile, Patino showed flashes by going 5-3 with a 4.31 ERA in 19 outings, 15 of them in a starting role.

“There’s a lot of excitement (around him),” Cash said of Patino, a former San Diego top farmhand who came over to the Rays when pitcher Blake Snell was traded to the Padres. “It’s easy to forget how young he was and the special things he did for us. Him and McClanahan did some really good things.

“McClanahan was more consistent and probably had more consistent reps at doing it, but there’s so much to like with Patino. It’s electric stuff.”

Patino said he wants to get off to a strong start and build on what he learned in 2021.

“I definitely want to step in on the right foot in the right direction,” said Patino, who will wear No. 1 instead of 61. “This year with that experience, I think I have a little bit less pressure going into it than I did last year.”

In two relief outings totaling 3 1/3 innings against the A’s, Patino has posted no record and a 5.40 ERA.

–Field Level Media