Austin Pruitt throws five no-hit innings for Athletics in spot start –

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Martín Gallegos 
OAKLAND — When the A’s tabbed Austin Pruitt as an emergency spot starter for Friday night’s game against the White Sox, after right-hander James Kaprielian was scratched due to a laceration on his right middle finger, the club's expectations were rather tempered.
Not having taken the mound for a start in the Major Leagues since 2019, Pruitt’s main objective was to provide some length. Anything more than a few innings with the A’s still within striking distance would have been a plus, really.
Instead, Pruitt went beyond the call of duty.
In what ended as a 5-3 loss to Chicago after A.J. Puk was tagged for five runs in the ninth, Pruitt managed to tame a potent Chicago lineup that was fresh off a 14-run performance against Oakland the night before. Undaunted by the circumstances, Pruitt tossed five hitless innings, with his only two baserunners reaching via error.
"You really can’t say enough about what Pruitt has brought to this bullpen and this team in general," said A’s manager Mark Kotsay. "Going out and starting tonight, we knew if he executed pitches that he’d have the ability to get some length for us. That went into the decision to start him. He hadn’t had a pitch count above 50 in some time, and for him to get five innings, that provided us what we needed tonight. Outstanding job."
Pruitt was indeed efficient, getting through the five innings on just 55 pitches, which matched his season-high pitch total. Making the feat all the more impressive was that it came against a White Sox offense that entered the day leading the Majors in hits.
"I was going to throw strikes and do everything I can to go as far as I can in that ballgame to help out my guys," Pruitt said. "We had the late scratch with Kap, so I wanted to do it for my guys down in the bullpen and do it for Kap. I just wanted to throw strikes and see how far I can go."
It was the longest outing of Pruitt’s career since Sept. 5, 2019, which also happened to be his previous big league start, when he tossed five innings of one-run ball for the Rays against the Blue Jays.
Just a couple of weeks ago, Pruitt thought he might have thrown his last pitch for the A’s. Despite throwing the ball relatively well at the time in an overall struggling Oakland bullpen, he was designated for assignment by the club on Aug. 22 and was placed on waivers, free for any club to acquire him. After going unclaimed, Pruitt accepted an option to Triple-A Las Vegas, eventually rejoining the A's 40-man roster and being called back up on Aug. 27.
"During that time when I got designated, it came as a surprise a little bit," Pruitt said. "It definitely hurt walking out of that locker room because this has been such an up and down season. I’ve gotten to know these guys pretty well, especially down in the bullpen. It definitely hurt walking out of that bullpen. Being right back in here, it felt amazing. Coming back to the stadium, I just had a gigantic smile on my face. I couldn’t even hide it. It was incredible to get back."
Not only did Pruitt come back, he found a way to flirt with baseball history — though it’s something he said never crossed his mind at any point while on the mound.
"I was pretty focused on what I was doing," Pruitt said when asked if he realized he hadn’t allowed a hit through his five innings. "I kind of knew that I hadn’t given up any hits, but I wasn’t going to look either."
The combined no-hit bid by the A’s lasted until the seventh, when Eloy Jiménez poked a one-out single to left off right-hander Joel Payamps. Still, with Payamps keeping Chicago scoreless for two innings in relief of Pruitt, the night was shaping up for a much-needed feel-good win for Oakland.
Then came the ninth inning.
After a scoreless eighth from Domingo Acevedo, the ninth saw Puk enter with a three-run lead. It was a save situation Kotsay hoped to see the hard-throwing left-hander utilize as a way to build confidence in a closing role, but the rookie struggled, tagged for five runs on four hits as he recorded just two outs.
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"He’s been in that role before and had success," Kotsay said of Puk. "You look at his stat line and he’s having a great year. Tonight was a blemish on that year. He needs to turn the page and get back on the mound."


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