Fifth inning haunts Boyle as Oakland A’s road trip starts with a dud

CLEVELAND — The Oakland A’s did not have much success slowing down the Cleveland Guardians offense late last month when the two teams met for a season-opening four-game series at the Coliseum.

That proved to be the case again Friday, as the A’s allowed five runs in the bottom of the fifth inning and never recovered in a 10-2 loss to the Guardians to open a 10-game road trip.

Starter Joe Boyle allowed a two-run homer to Tyler Freeman in the second inning and Steven Kwan and Andrés Giménez both drove in a pair of runs in the fifth as the A’s dropped to 1-4 in games against the Guardians this season. In those games, Oakland has been outscored 39-13.

Cleveland starter Triston McKenzie (2-2) slowed down the A’s as he allowed one run in five innings and struck out a season-high six. The right-hander had just five strikeouts in his first three starts after missing much of last season with a sprained elbow.

Josh Naylor added a solo homer and Estevan Florial had a career-best three hits for the Guardians, who have won five of their last six and have the best record in the AL Central at 14-6. It’s Cleveland’s best start since 1999.

A’s third baseman Abraham Toro hit his first career leadoff home run and Brent Rooker added a homer in the ninth off Scott Barlow. Oakland is 7-5 after opening the year with seven losses in eight games.

Boyle (1-3) made his fourth start, allowing seven runs in six innings. The Cleveland resident walked four and surrendered five hits.

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In the fifth, Boyle issued two walks as the Guardians loaded the bases. Kwan doubled to score two before Giménez’s single scored two more.

“Other than the fifth, I thought I was pretty solid and efficient,” Boyle said. “Without those walks in the fifth, it’s a different outing.”

Freeman’s wind-aided homer hooked inside the foul pole in right, scoring Will Brennan to give Cleveland a 2-1 lead in the second. Josh Naylor tacked on a solo shot off Kyle Muller in the eighth.

The Guardians blew the game open with five runs in the fifth, highlighted by Kwan’s two-run double. Giménez followed with a two-run single and came home on a hit by José Ramírez.

“There was some weak contact, but again, it’s the walks and the free bases that really killed Joe tonight and that led to that fifth inning and us getting behind there,” A’s manager Mark Kotsay said. “I sent him back out for the sixth. It’s part of that development, still wanting to get him back out there, and see how he rebounds from that tough inning.

“He rebounded in the sixth but this is part of that maturation process. When you get a couple of guys on base, you just try to slow the game down, and he’s still growing.”

Oakland began a 10-game trip that includes series with the Yankees and Orioles. The A’s have another stretch of 10 straight road games from May 10-19.

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TRAINER’S ROOM

Athletics: OF Brent Rooker (ribcage cartilage) was activated from the injured list after missing nine games, entering as a pinch hitter in the sixth. Manager Mark Kotsay said he will start Saturday.

Guardians: RHP Gavin Williams (right elbow inflammation), who has been on the IL since March 25, is slated to throw three innings in a simulated game Saturday in Goodyear, Arizona.

UP NEXT

A’s LHP Alex Wood (0-1, 8.10 ERA) has the third-highest ERA in the majors among pitchers with at least 15 innings. He also is allowing the third-highest OPS at 1.042. He’ll face Guardians LHP Logan Allen (2-0, 5.06 ERA), who defeated Oakland and Seattle in his first two starts, but has given up nine runs over 9 2/3 innings in his past two outings.

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