The Baltimore Orioles had just about everyone on the team contribute in some form or fashion to an 11-inning loss to the Oakland A’s Friday evening.
In one sense the series opener was a fascinating game, as multiple, potential game-changing plays were decided by fractions of inches and fractions of seconds. Yet it was terribly frustrating for the Orioles, as most of the close calls went against them.
In the end, Oakland pulled out a 4-3 win in 11 innings, wasting a quality start from Wei-Yin Chen who gave up only two runs on solo homers in his 6.1 innings. His pitches had decent movement and excellent velocity.
The Baltimore Orioles did come back from a 2-0 deficit to take a 3-2 lead. A trio of singles by J.J. Hardy, Steve Pearce, and Jonathan Schoop scored their first run in the second inning. Chris Davis tied the game with a homer in the fourth, and Manny Machado gave the Birds a lead with a solo shot in the fifth inning. But that would be it for scoing, even though the Orioles did manage 13 hits in the 11 innings.
The tying run was given up in uncharacteristic fashion, as Darren O’Day walked leadoff hitter Coco Crisp – a thorn in the Orioles’ side for what seems like the past 30 years. Crisp would steal second where Yoenis Cespedes would score him on a double into the left-field corner.
The best chance for the Orioles to win the game was in the 10th inning. With one out and Nick Markakis on second and Nelson Cruz on first, Adam Jones drove a single into right field. Markakis was thrown out in a play close enough to be challenged – though unsuccessfully. Should he have been sent with Davis on deck? I think so; it was worth the shot at winning the game. I’ve been very critical of Dickerson’s coaching and choices this year, but it was a legitimate good chance to win the game right there.
The next play raises another question. With two out and Nelson Cruz on third base (and two strikes on Davis), Cruz attempted to steal home and was thrown out at the plate. I wrote in May about being at an Orioles game and how, in person, the over-shift against a left-handed pull hitter leaves a runner at third so free to get a huge lead. I opined then that someone should seek to take advantage of this. However, Cruz was actually not that much farther off the base than in a typical situation when he broke for the plate. So I believe the idea was a good one, but it simply was not executed in a way that would yield success.
The Oakland A’s scored the game-winning running in the top of the 11th off Evan Meek – who does not seem to have “plus stuff” whatsoever these days. John Jaso doubled to lead off the inning on a ball where Adam Jones fell down before fielding and making the throw on a close play at second base.
After a strikeout, Albert Callaspo hit a sharp grounder to J.J. Hardy’s glove side. Hardy committed his fourth error in two days, as he clearly lifted his head before fielding the ball – looking to possibly make a play at third, which may well have been successful if he came up with it cleanly. Steven Vogt singled in the go-ahead run, breaking the O’s back – as Davis, Hardy, and Pearce struck out in order in the bottom of the 11th.
Did the difficult travel schedule and odd sleep patterns contribute to the loss? Would the fractional plays have gone the other way with a more rested team? The early season has been a grind if it has been anything, and the Orioles drop to 30-29 while the Jays win yet another game.
Weird, weird season!
Speaking of weird, another odd moment happened when Manny Machado took severe offense to the way he was tagged out at third base by the A’s Josh Donaldson. I really don’t see why Manny was that angry, as he was trying to get away from the tag and Donaldson was trying to put it on him. Machado fell backwards, throwing his helmet, and standing to get into Donaldson’s face.
Apparently Manny saw his own action as “giving himself up” a bit more than Donaldson did, who seemed genuinely shocked that Machado was up in his face. Benches cleared, etc… though the whole thing de-escalated quickly.
I don’t fault the passion of Manny nor the fire to get into another’s guy’s face, even though I’ve never really seen much of that fervor or attitude in him before. Actually, I like it. I often wish more of the mellow personalities on the Baltimore Orioles displayed more of this aggressiveness. I just think there was more smoke than fire in the actual precipitating incident.
Donaldson was hit with an inside pitch by Chen in the top of the sixth inning. Though he threw some equipment in the air in disgust, again, smoke without a fire. It was the eighth pitch of the at-bat and was on a full count. Sometimes toward the end of the day for Chen, he loses his pinpointing abilities. I don’t want to say he “tires” because, of those eight pitches to Donaldson, five were 94 MPH, one was 95 (the final pitch), and one was at 96.
All in all, a frustrating loss, and the Orioles need to turn it around today … check back for a preview and some other thoughts on the draft and Johan Santana.