A swinging bunt single, a broken bat blooper, and then a three run home run. The only thing keeping it from being glorious is the fact that it was the Athletics who benefited from these things on Friday night as the Orioles lost, 5-4. The three run home run came from Josh Donaldson in the ninth inning as the Orioles led, 4-2.
As they say, that escalated quickly. There was nothing to the swinging bunt or the bloop other than plain old bad luck. Then Zach Britton left the wrong pitch hanging in the wrong place to the wrong batter and the second half started off with a loss where it should have been a win.
That one hurts, all the moreso because the triumph would have been thanks in large part to Manny Machado, who, after his behavior in the series back in Baltimore, is apparently Public Enemy No. 1 in Oakland. Fans booed him every time he did anything, with many holding signs, some of which, as Gary Thorne suggested on the MASN broadcast, were not fit to be shown on television.
Machado responded to all of the boos the best way that you can. He broke a 2-2 tie in the seventh inning by hitting a two run home run off the much-heralded Jeff Samardzija. That was the second two-run homer that Samardzija had allowed in the game, with Jonathan Schoop also hitting one in the fifth inning. Welcome to the real baseball league, Jeff.
The O's touched up Samardzija for four runs in seven innings. They did very little against him the first time around, but they adjusted the next time around, or at least the bottom of the lineup did. The 2-4 hitters were hitless on the night, and #5 hitter Chris Davis only had an excuse-me swing that turned into an opposite field base hit.
O's starter Chris Tillman may not have had the better stuff, but he got the better results. Over 6.2 innings, Tillman gave up only four hits and a walk, striking out six. He allowed two runs, one of which came on a solo home run from Derek Norris in the fifth inning of the game. Norris looks like he belongs on the Red Sox. That was the second Oakland run, with the first coming when John Jaso doubled in Coco Crisp to score the game's first run in the third inning.
It was a great one, and then suddenly it wasn't. Baseball is wonderful and cruel, sometimes both on the same night. Britton had not allowed a run in his last ten appearances. He was due, you might say. Even with three earned runs allowed while not retiring a batter, he has a 1.86 ERA on the year.
That's little comfort for the Orioles or fans tonight. Damn. Just, damn.
Worth keeping an eye on will be the health of Nelson Cruz. He fouled a ball off of the top of his foot and was ginger in his attempts to trot down to first base in every at-bat after that. Hopefully that's the kind of thing that will be okay the next day, or at least in a day or two.
J.J. Hardy had a 2-3 night and scored two of the Orioles runs. Tommy Hunter pitched four outs of scoreless relief. These performances meant nothing in the game's final outcome, but they did their jobs tonight. If only everyone else could say the same.
The good/bad thing about a game like this is when you get to pick up and do it all again tomorrow. There is no time for wallowing or pity. The season rolls on. Saturday's game has a 9:05 start time. Wei-Yin Chen is the Orioles starter, with former Oriole Jason Hammel getting the ball for Oakland.