OAKLAND — Joe Boyle should remember fondly his MLB debut. The rookie pitcher held a potent Padres lineup scoreless in three innings. He gave up one hit and struck out four, including two against superstar Fernando Tatis. Jr.
What will the 24-year-old remember most from his big league debut with the A’s?
“I’ll remember how I burned my tongue on a cup of coffee this morning,” he said.
Boyle didn’t even get a memento to put in a glass case or frame for his shelf from his big game; no ball from his first strikeout or lineup card. Even the pre-game butterflies didn’t take long to dissipate. So it was a relaxed debut for the rookie that perhaps matched the nature of the game’s outcome. The A’s lost 10-1, swept by the San Diego Padres on Sunday afternoon at the Coliseum in a three-game series for the first time between these two clubs.
Losing is old hat for the A’s. They’ve now lost 103 games and are in danger of matching a franchise record 108 losses recorded in 1979. But Boyle’s debut signals a movement running upstream to all the losing. Boyle is the 23rd different pitcher to to start a game for the A’s this season, and the 6-foot-7 right-handed pitcher’s performance indicates the A’s have another promising arm to add to their arsenal heading into next season. He appeared unfazed by the big league stage.
“Once you get out there it just felt like baseball,” Boyle said. “Like, obviously you know the kind of hitters they are. You know they’re good and what they can handle. Their strengths and weaknesses. So you prepare for that going into it.”
Before the game, A’s manager Mark Kotsay didn’t hide that his biggest concern was Boyle’s command issues in the minor leagues the team feared would translate into the pitcher’s debut.
But Boyle’s command issues didn’t overshadow the talent. He walked two batters, but threw a high-90 mph four-seam fastball that topped out at 100ph, a cutter that reached 92 mph and peppered in seven curveballs. He was pulled having thrown 58 pitches.
“That was the plan,” Kotsay said. “Get his feet wet. Get him out there and turn the ball over to Waldichuk.”
The Padres got to Ken Waldichuk, who came in as the A’s featured pitcher, for two runs on four hits in the fourth inning. Manny Machado doubled while Luis Campusano and Eguy Rosario collected RBIs. Matthew Batten had a two-run hit against him in the sixth inning. Juan Soto hit a two-run home run in the seventh inning and then a grand slam off Devin Sweet in the eighth inning for a six-RBI game.
Meanwhile, the A’s offense — which ranks last in the Majors in most statistical categories — couldn’t get much going against most of the Padres arms. They had two hits and three base runners through six innings. Zack Gelof and Brent Rooker were the only two to get hits against opener Nick Martinez and featured pitcher Pedro Avila.
The A’s loaded the bases with one out in the seventh inning, but third baseman Rosario snagged a line drive by Nick Allen and doubled off the runner at second to keep the A’s scoreless. Brent Rooker hit a solo home run in the eighth inning off reliever Ray Kerr for Oakland’s only run.
Boyle was drafted in the fifth round of the 2020 draft out of Notre Dame and made a rapid rise through the minor leagues. The Reds, desperate for some pitching help amid a postseason push, took left-handed pitcher Sam Moll for the Reds’ No. 28-ranked prospect at this year’s trade deadline.
He’s struggled mightily with his command in the minor leagues as evidenced by his 1.500 WHIP in eight games this year across three minor league teams between the Reds and A’s systems. He averaged 7.1 walks-per-nine innings and 12.9 strikeouts-per-nine in those eight games. In six games between high-A and double-A with the Reds organization last year, he held a 7.5 walk-per-nine rate and 13.7 strikeouts-per-nine.
The A’s selected Boyle’s contract on Sunday morning and placed pitcher Sean Newcomb on the injured list in a corresponding move.
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