2 catcher's interference calls in 7th sink A's

June 28th, 2022

NEW YORK -- One thing the A’s showed Monday night was their fight, as they battled the Yankees for most of the game at Yankee Stadium. Oakland batted around in the third inning and staked itself to a four-run lead.

But the A’s bullpen and two catcher’s interference calls against Sean Murphy in the seventh inning helped New York come back to claim a 9-5 win in the series opener.

Right-handed reliever had been called upon to protect the lead for Oakland, despite the fact that he had posted 6.1 walks per nine innings entering Monday’s action. Oller started the inning by drawing a lineout from Joey Gallo, but he then walked DJ LeMahieu.

Murphy, a Gold Glove catcher, rarely makes mistakes behind the plate. In fact, entering Monday’s action, Murphy ranked first in fielding percentage and total chances in the AL. In the seventh, however, he had trouble manning the position, as Aaron Judge reached base next on a catcher’s interference error, putting runners on first and second.

“Murph was just reaching in to get that ball,” A’s manager Mark Kotsay said. “He is one of the best at getting the low strike call. It’s unfortunate. It impacted that inning. It’s not something you see from Murph. It’s kind of an unusual night for that to happen.”

Oller was then taken out of the game in favor of left-hander , who came in to face the left-handed-hitting Anthony Rizzo. But Puk ended up hitting Rizzo in the right elbow with his first pitch to load the bases.

Giancarlo Stanton came to the plate and reached base on another catcher’s interference error, as Murphy’s glove caught the slugger’s swing. That allowed LeMahieu to score and make it a one-run game. The last catcher to be charged with two catcher’s interference calls in the Majors was James McCann of the Mets on May 8, 2021, against the D-backs.

Murphy didn’t shy away from the media after the game, acknowledging that he was too close to Judge and Stanton on those plays. Murphy knew that they had big swings before either entered the batter’s box.

“A couple of terrible mistakes. I feel terrible for my pitchers. It shouldn’t happen. It did,” Murphy said. “I’ll bounce back tomorrow.”

Right-hander , who started the game and received a no-decision, was surprised to see Murphy make those two defensive miscues.

“It's one of those things that you never see,” Blackburn said. “That’s a guy that is back there every single day. [He is a] Gold Glove [catcher], a leader on this team, a leader for this pitching staff. I feel terrible for him. It’s just one of those situations where it’s just a freak thing. He'll bounce back tomorrow. We’ll come in here and [try to] take a series.”

After Murphy’s second error, Josh Donaldson hit a go-ahead double to left field, scoring Judge and Rizzo.

Right-hander Austin Pruitt then entered the game and couldn’t stop the scoring, allowing RBI hits to Jose Trevino and Marwin Gonzalez.

“Unfortunately, we couldn’t get out of that inning, and it ended up being the game,” Kotsay said.

Before that decisive frame, it looked like a night when the A’s struggling offense might start turning the tide. Entering Monday’s action, the A’s were ranked last in the Major Leagues in each of the three slash categories (.211/.274/.329), as their 3.2 runs per game was only better than the Tigers (2.9) this season.

But against the Yankees, Oakland batted around in the third inning and scored all of its five runs against left-handed starter Jordan Montgomery.  had the biggest blow with a bases-clearing double to right field. However, the A’s couldn’t add on from there, and Montgomery pitched into the seventh inning.

“We put some good at-bats together,” Kotsay said. “I tip my cap to Montgomery for going back out and pitching as deep into that game as he did. He came back from that inning and showed why he had some success over the last few starts. To go through the third and bounce back and pitch into the seventh says something about who he is.”