The Orioles lost tonight in extra innings because they make bad decisions. OK, there is no guarantee that they would have won if they made better decisions, but they certainly would have had a very good chance. See, it's easier to win when you don't just give away all of your outs.
With the game tied 3-3 in the bottom of the 10th inning, Nick Markakis led off with a single. Manny Machado bunted him to second, giving away the Orioles first out. I'm didn't love a bunt there, but at least there is an argument for it. It was the least of the Orioles transgressions that inning, even if it did lead to an intentional walk to Nelson Cruz. So with runners on first and second with one out, Adam Jones singled to right field. The right fielder got to the ball before Markakis had even crossed third base (he's slow, you know) but Bobby Dickerson waved him in! Come on, man. Nick was out by a mile. That's the second out they gave away.
So instead of the bases loaded and one out for Chris Davis, it was two on and two out for Chris Davis. The A's were shifting him so that there was no one anywhere close to third base and with Nelson Cruz on third, if Davis could have bunted a ball past the pitcher on the left side, the game would have been over. But Davis either can't or won't bunt, so Cruz took it upon himself to try and steal home. Seriously. He was also out easily, as the Orioles gave away their third out. They didn't deserve to win.
The O's used all of their good bullpen arms in the first ten innings of the game, so they brought Evan Meek in for the 11th, who of course gave up the go ahead run. The A's closer, Sean Doolittle, struck out the side in the bottom half and the game was over.
It's a shame for all of us who watch this team, but it was really a shame for Wei-Yin Chen. Chen pitched a hell of a game, wasted on a team who makes such horrible decisions. He gave up just one hit in each of the first two innings, but unfortunately they were both home runs. They put the Orioles into an early hole and visions of homers flying out of the park all night by the high-powered A's into our heads. But after a leadoff single by Craig Gentry in the third inning, Chen retired 11 in a row until hitting Josh Donaldson with a pitch in the sixth inning. He seemed to be tiring at that point, but got Yoenis Cespedes to fly out to end the inning. He came back out for the 7th inning and gave up a single and got an out before being pulled for Ryan Webb. His final pitching like was 6 ⅓ IP, 5 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 4 K. Not too shabby.
The Orioles scored just three runs off of A's starter Tommy Milone, but since Milone's ERA was just 3.60 coming into this game, that's more than I expected. They got the scoring started in the second inning. With two outs, three straight singles by J.J. Hardy, Jonathan Schoop, and Steve Pearce resulted in one run, and Milone gave up solo home runs to Chris Davis (4th inning) and Manny Machado (5th inning). They only wasted a few good chances, one with Machado on second with two outs in the 3rd (more on that in a bit) and a double by Hardy right after Davis's home run in the 4th. There were no outs when Hardy doubled, but he never got any further than second base.
Darren O'Day gave up the tying run after Chen left. The runner that scored was on base via a walk, because of course. O'Day was wearing old school stirrups, and while I hope he keeps them, after tonight's performance he probably won't.
Zach Britton pitched two scoreless innings, the second one dicey but successful, the Orioles offense and Evan Meek blew the game. It's not surprising to lose to the A's, but to lose like that was pretty awful.
So, about that kerfuffle between Machado and Donaldson that happened in the 3rd inning. The benches cleared when Adam Jones hit a ground ball to Donaldson at third base. Machado was on second and rather than throw to first for the third out, Donaldson tagged Machado as he got too close to third. Replays show that it was just a regular old tag, but Machado lost his footing and tumbled over. He spiked his helmet and got up in Donaldson's face as the benches cleared. The entire thing was ridiculous and uncalled for.
The next time that Donaldson was up, with two outs in the sixth inning, Chen went up and in on him in a 2-2 count. It's possible, probably likely, that Chen was brushing Donaldson back in defense of his teammate. Then on a 3-2 count, Chen came inside again and hit Donaldson in the forearm. Donaldson ripped off his arm guard and yelled something into his own dugout, but then took his base.
Did Chen do it on purpose? Many people will think so, and I don't blame them. I certainly don't know anything for sure, but it seems to me that intentionally hitting a player with a one-run lead and Cespedes on deck would be one of the worst decisions a pitcher could make. Especially a player like Chen, who is prone to giving up homers and who had already given up two in the game. And if he was going to hit him, why wait until he'd already thrown him seven pitches? The fact that Chen followed the HBP with two straight balls to Cespedes speaks to the idea that he was tiring and losing control. He was up to 90-ish pitches at that point, which is a danger zone for him.
If the A's took offense to the actions of Machado or Chen tonight, it didn't show on the field. No Orioles batters were hit or even brushed back (Davis took a pitch pretty far in but given that it was in extra innings, I'm not gonna consider it). Perhaps the fact that the game was so close the entire time had something to do with it. We'll see tomorrow.