Speedster Esteury Ruiz joined an elite list of A’s with 50 stolen bases on Sunday, then quickly picked up stolen base No. 51.
But that was the lone highlight for Oakland on Sunday, as the White Sox beat the A’s 6-1 to split the four-game set on the south side of Chicago.
After leading off the sixth with a single, Ruiz stole his 50th base of the season off of the first pitch White Sox starter Mike Clevinger threw to Ryan Noda.
When Ruiz beat Chicago catcher Yasmani Grandal’s throw to second, he became just the eighth player in A’s franchise history to steal 50 bases in a season, and the first since Rajai Davis swiped 50 bags in 2010.
Ruiz didn’t wait long to break his tie with Davis, stealing base No. 51 after Noda popped out and with Zach Gelof at the plate. The stolen bases helped turned Gelof’s deep fly out to left field into a sacrifice fly, scoring Oakland’s only run of the game.
The Athletics players who have stolen 50 or more bases in a season are Rickey Henderson (who did so nine times with the A’s), Bert Campaneris (seven times), Eddie Collins (five times), Bill North (three times), Don Baylor, Miguel Dilone, Davis and now Ruiz.
While Ruiz won’t be coming close to Henderson’s MLB record of 130 stolen bases in a single season, his 51 are already the most by an A’s player since Henderson swiped 66 bags in 1998.
Ruiz’s 51 stolen bases currently leads the American League and is second in all of baseball, behind Atlanta’s Ronald Acuña Jr.’s 59 (entering Sunday). Ruiz’s number could be considered more impressive because he missed a month because of a shoulder injury, meaning he’s only played in 104 of Oakland’s 131 games so far.
Ruiz’s single to start the sixth was the first hit of the day for the A’s off of Clevinger and the only one off of the right-hander in seven innings, as he struck out 10 and walked two to pick up his sixth win of the season.
“That was a really good outing by Clev,” Chicago manager Pedro Grifol said. “That’s the guy I’ve seen for years, even back when he was in Cleveland.”
Clevinger (6-6) walked two in his 13th career double-digit strikeout performance. He is 3-2 with a 2.31 ERA in six starts since he was activated from the injured list July 29 after being sidelined by right biceps inflammation.
Yoán Moncada went 4 for 4 for Chicago, and Tim Anderson, Andrew Benintendi and Andrew Vaughn each had two hits.
Paul Blackburn (3-4) allowed four runs in six innings for the A’s, who had won four of six.
“Paul threw the ball really well, much better than the line shows,” Oakland manager Mark Kotsay said. “The Diaz play, I think they gave that a hit and an error, which ultimately he’s out by 10 feet if we make a good throw. We got to play better defense. We talk about it a lot. This is one of our worst defensive games in the last month or two at least.”
Kotsay and right fielder Seth Brown were ejected after Brown struck out in the sixth.
The A’s will head to Seattle to start a three-game series against the Mariners, who have won all seven games against Oakland so far this season. While the A’s have yet to announce a starter, Seattle will send Alameda’s Bryan Woo (1-3, 4.58 ERA) to the mound.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.