One day after the San Diego Padres watched Matt Waldron earn his first major league win, the host Oakland Athletics hope to enjoy a similar experience when right-hander Joe Boyle makes his big-league debut in the finale of the three-game series on Sunday.
The Padres (71-78) have allowed manager Bob Melvin to enjoy the first two days of his Oakland homecoming with 8-3 and 5-2 victories.
San Diego will send right-hander Nick Martinez (5-4, 3.84 ERA) to the mound in search of a sweep, opposed by Boyle, who has risen quickly through the minor leagues after having been acquired from the Cincinnati Reds for reliever Sam Moll at the trade deadline.
Boyle, 24-year-old Notre Dame product, pitched at Double-A for the Reds this season before earning a promotion to Triple-A with the A's after starting off at Double-A.
He made three starts at Triple-A Las Vegas, during which he went 0-2 but with a 2.25 ERA, the result of having allowed just eight hits in 16 innings.
"We're looking forward to seeing this young man who has earned this opportunity," A's manager Mark Kotsay said after Saturday's loss. "We're excited (about him)."
Kotsay was not excited about the play of his club Saturday, when he counted 16 free bases allowed through walks and errors.
One walk opened the game and led to a two-run first inning, and another, to Juan Soto, came in the fourth inning with the bases loaded and the A's having climbed within 2-1.
Oakland made just two errors, but they came on the same play — both fielding and throwing miscues by first baseman Ryan Noda — and allowed Padres to score from first and second, giving San Diego its last two runs.
The A's (46-102) lost despite outhitting the visitors 9-6.
In an attempt to end a three-game losing streak, A's hitters this time will take their cracks at Martinez, a 33-year-old in his second season with the Padres after four years with the Texas Rangers. He began the season as a starter but moved to the bullpen in late April, and he'll likely be an opener on Sunday.
In five September outings, he has given up one run in seven innings, leading to a 1.29 ERA. In his career, he is 4-4 with 2.87 ERA in 14 appearances (10 starts) against Oakland.
Before heading to northern California, the Padres took two of three games in Los Angeles against the Dodgers after having gone 1-2 in Houston. Counting the wins in Oakland the past two days, that's a 5-3 trip most playoff contenders would be happy with — especially with one game remaining against the A's before a six-game homestand against non-contenders (the Colorado Rockies and St. Louis Cardinals).
The Padres haven't formally thrown in the towel in the National League playoff chase, but shutting down pitchers Joe Musgrove and Yu Darvish for the season doesn't exactly scream must-win. Musgrove (shoulder) and Darvish (elbow) have been battling injuries.
"I want to pitch," Musgrove said this week. "But obviously the risk/reward is not that great. If I go out there and pitch a game that's not leading toward anything for us as a team, then it's not worth it if I go out there and get injured. If we're in a postseason race, pushing to get back, that makes more sense."
—Field Level Media