Something stunk in Oakland on Tuesday night and for once it was not the sewage flowing up from the bowels of the O.co Coliseum. It was the Orioles offense, who collectively turned in one of those pathetic, frustrating 0-for RISP performances as they got themselves shut out for the seventh time in the 2015 season. A bunch of other terrible things happened and it all added up to a 5-0 loss at the hands of the Athletics.
The current state of the American League wild card being what it is, the Orioles entered the day in a three-way tie for the second spot and they had a chance to keep the pace with the Blue Jays for that place in the standings. Instead they sucked against Chris Bassitt, who unfortunately is the exact sort of pitcher that you can and probably did predict would shut out the Orioles for seven innings before the game even began. That's exactly what he ended up doing.
A failure so complete and total cannot be laid at the hands of any one player. This one surely was not. Starter Miguel Gonzalez was not so great, giving up three runs on five hits and three walks in only 5.1 innings of work. Yet for all that, he was one unlucky bounce away from one of those runs never scoring; on a Billy Burns single, Eric Sogard tried to score from second and Adam Jones had him dead to rights at the plate - but Jones' throw in from center bounced off just the right part of the pitcher's mound that it went straight up instead of generally towards the plate.
That plated the first Athletics run, which, as it turns out, would have been enough to beat the Orioles anyway, but they went on having problems. Gonzalez lost his command in the sixth inning and was justifiably plucked from the contest after giving up an automatic double to Billy Butler on an 0-2 count and, one batter later, a triple to Brett Lawrie, also on an 0-2 count. This is when you're supposed to get these guys out, Miguel.
That was enough for Buck Showalter, who pulled Gonzalez in favor of Chaz Roe. Three pitches later, Roe had struck out Mark Canha. Hey, this pitching thing isn't so hard. Next up was Sogard, the player who the Internet ironically rallied around a couple of offseasons ago when MLB had one of those stupid "Face of MLB" social media poll things, because people thought it would be funny if the goofy, glasses-wearing, crappy-hitting middle infielder was proclaimed the Face of MLB.
The league probably (in my paranoid, conspiracy-oriented mind) had to rig the voting to stop Sogard from winning the whole thing. He looks like if I was a baseball player. Going into this game, he was batting .246/.285/.277. Yes, he's left-handed and Roe is right-handed, but Sogard's split against righties is just as putrid. So what in the world would possess a team to issue an intentional walk to Sogard in order to face the stronger Marcus Semien? This is overthinking platoon splits to the point of stupidity.
Predictably, Semien crushed a Roe pitch for a three-run home run. The terrible strategy failed. Who could have ever guessed it? There's two outs and your batter has a sub-.600 OPS. Get the guy out! Don't try to get cute with an empty base just because there's somebody already on third base. This was dumb and the Orioles paid the price for being dumb.
Not that any of this ended up mattering because they never scored any dang runs. They were 0-8 with RISP in the game.
Who looked the worst in the game? Was it Travis Snider, who somehow lost a routine fly ball and had to be bailed out by Adam Jones sprinting all the way over from center field? Was it Snider when he worked a 3-0 count and then ended up swinging through 92 and 93mph fastballs to strike out? It was all bad. They were basically all bad, except for Jonathan Schoop, who had two of the Orioles' seven hits.
The loss sets up a rubber game in this first series of the O's west coast swing. That will take place tomorrow afternoon, with a scheduled first pitch at 3:35pm Eastern. Wei-Yin Chen and Kendall Graveman are the expected starting pitchers. About the only way the game could go worse for the Orioles offense is if they get no-hit or perfect gamed, which I will not rule out.