On Short Notice, New A's Catcher Garneau Impresses, Meshes With Blackburn

ANAHEIM - Dustin Garneau arrived at Angel Stadium on Saturday and found his name in the lineup, not that he had much time to meet his new A's teammates.

There was one burning question the catcher had to answer:

What the heck does Paul Blackburn like to throw?

It must have been an effective cram session for Garneau, as he and Blackburn, Oakland's rookie starter, appeared very much on the same page in a 5-0 A's victory over the Angels.

"Paul, man, he made it easy for me," Garneau said. "He spotted them up. It was fun to catch him."

The 29-year-old, claimed off waivers from Colorado, did some brief consulting with A's pitching coach Scott Emerson. Then he and Blackburn did about 30 minutes of film study together so Garneau could piece together a plan in his mind for calling pitches. He paid attention to how Blackburn was throwing in pregame warmups and the two improvised from there, only requiring a couple short conversations between innings as Blackburn fired 6 2/3 scoreless frames.

"I think we were on the same page for most of the game," Blackburn said. "I thought he caught really well and his game calling was really good."

Manager Bob Melvin, a former catcher himself, was impressed with Garneau's ability to absorb so much so quickly upon his same-day arrival. With Josh Phegley out with an oblique injury and Ryan Lavarnway designated for assignment Saturday, Garneau will form the right-handed half of a platoon with Bruce Maxwell for now.

Garneau, who grew up in nearby Torrance and lives just a few miles from Angel Stadium, also chipped in a two-run single from the No. 9 spot, giving a crowd of about 20 loved ones in the stands plenty to cheer about.

He also helped Blackburn continue the joyride that's been his first seven major league starts. He's 3-1 with a 2.60 ERA, and he'd have four wins if his bullpen could have stashed away a deserving victory in Toronto.

"I think anybody could work well with Blackburn at this point," Melvin said. "… He's been about as consistent as anybody we've had for the period of time he's been here. He's a guy, you look forward to him getting on the mound now."

It's the rare game that Mike Trout doesn't inflict hurt on the A's. He and Albert Pujols combined for two harmless singles in six plate appearances against Blackburn, and Trout's hit originally was ruled an error on Marcus Semien before being changed. Blackburn relished the challenge of facing the game's best overall player (Trout), and one of the greatest hitters of the past two decades (Pujols).

"It's fun, and kinda cool at the same time seeing guys like that," Blackburn said. "It was kind of a mindset of don't give in to those guys."

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