James Kaprielian hasn't had the best start to the 2022 MLB season, but at least one part of his game had been reliable: The Athletics starter didn't hurt himself by walking a lot of batters.
That changed Wednesday night in the A's 10-1 loss to the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.
The 28-year-old right-hander walked a career-high six batters in 3 2/3 innings pitched, while also allowing seven hits and six runs, five of which were earned. He only struck out two Red Sox hitters. His record fell to 0-4 and his ERA rose to 6.31.
In 34 previous outings at the big league level, Kaprielian's career high in walks was four, which he had done four separate times, so his latest outing could be a cause for concern.
"I did see him fighting himself with command," First-year A's manager Mark Kotsay told reporters in Boston after the game. "Anytime he goes out and doesn't throw more than 50 percent strikes, he's going to battle himself and it's going to be tough to get deep into the game and get outs. So I think that's the moral of the story tonight is just that he didn't throw enough strikes to get hitters out tonight."
Kaprielian threw 94 pitches against the Red Sox, 48 of which were strikes (51 percent). He entered Wednesday's start throwing 64 percent of his pitches for strikes.
While it might have been a mechanical issue that Kaprielian needs to get ironed out, Kotsay wasn't ready to go that far.
"I didn't notice anything different about Kap tonight other than his inability to locate his pitches," Kotsay said. "Again, when you fall behind on good hitters and you have to come to the middle of the plate, you get hurt and I think we saw that tonight in a couple situations."
Kotsay will talk to A's pitching coach Scott Emerson to try to figure out what might be going on with Kaprielian.
In his previous five starts, Kaprielian had walked a combined four batters and had only walked 13 the entire season. So six free passes is alarming.
For now, though, the A's problems are bigger than just Kaprielian's command issues. The loss to the Red Sox drops their record to 21-43, the worst in all of baseball. Boston has won all five games against Oakland this season and outscored them 36-6.
The A's will try to avoid the season-series sweep against the Red Sox on Thursday. First pitch is scheduled for 10:35 a.m. PT on NBC Sports California. Coverage begins at 10 a.m. PT with "A's Pregame Live" and continues after the final out.