Below, the details from a tough loss in Oakland.
After a scoreless first inning from both Athletics starter Paul Blackburn and Ubaldo Jimenez, Blackburn kicked off the second inning with a fastball up in the zone that Adam Jones, the night’s cleanup hitter, didn’t miss. On a 1-2 count, Jones put a charge into one over the left field wall, never a chance to stay in the field of play. His 22nd of the season gave the O’s the early 1-0 lead to kick off this series’ game number two.
For Jimenez in the first several innings, you might’ve thought you were watching the Dodgers with Clayton Kershaw taking the mound. He had everything working the first time through the Oakland lineup, and while it wasn’t Kershaw, it certainly was the best version of “good Ubaldo” we’ve seen in quite some time.
In both the second and third innings, Jimenez fanned the side, showcasing seemingly unhittable breaking stuff paired with a fastball tossed with pinpoint command. Through three innings, he totaled eight strikeouts and appeared to completely baffle the A’s. Not something you might have expected, but certainly a welcomed development to start this game off.
With Ubaldo cruising, Jones added another run in the top of the fourth inning — even though the run won’t count in his overall RBI numbers. Following a leadoff double by Manny Machado, Jonathan Schoop singled to put runners on the corners with nobody out against Blackburn.
Jones took a 1-2 pitch and grounded it to the left side, hitting it just hard enough to give Oakland a fairly routine double play. Fortunately (for the game’s score at the time), Matt Chapman at third base didn’t cut the run down at home, leading to Machado crossing the dish and boosting the Orioles lead to 2-0.
The bottom of the fourth saw the game’s first true momentum shift, particularly due to the Athletics lineup capitalizing on balls hit fairly well in the air. As good as Jimenez had been up until that point, it took just a few swings to hand the lead over to Oakland in the blink of an eye.
Back-to-back doubles by Jed Lowrie and Khris Davis set up a very well-hit deep fly from Matt Olson to make it 3-2 after four innings. Both doubles were simply fly balls that found some outfield grass, but Olson’s was a case of a Major League hitter crushing a 91 MPH fastball left right over the heart of the plate. He didn’t miss it, and despite Ubaldo collecting two more strikeouts to raise his total to 10, the lead was in the hands of the A’s.
The bad news following the fourth inning was that the lead at this point was lost and Jimenez’s pitch count was up to 78 (thanks, strikeouts). However, it didn’t take long for the Orioles offense to cash in on opportunities with runners in scoring position. In the top of the fifth, the top of the lineup grabbed the lead right back from Blackburn.
Tim Beckham and Manny Machado both found their way to first base with back-to-back singles, making Jonathan Schoop’s one-out double worth two key runs to adjust the scoreboard to 4-3.
Schoop lined a fastball to the right-center gap, his 30th of the season that solidified the one-run lead. He was left stranded, but the game was kindly handed back to Ubaldo to earn the opportunity to be in position to grab the win. And although it didn’t technically qualify as a quality start, Ubaldo found a way to ultimately exit the game on a high note.
He failed to finish the sixth inning, but Mychal Givens entered and kept the one-run lead in tact to keep Jimenez on the hook for the win. Over 99 pitches, Ubaldo’s final line was a good one: 5.1 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 11 K.
Ubaldo’s night indeed ended on a high note, as did Givens’. However, the same can’t be said for that of Brad Brach.
With the lead still in tact at 4-3 heading to the bottom of the eighth, Buck Showalter made the standard call to Brach to face the top of the A’s lineup with six outs left to be captured in the game. It was the obvious call — unfortunately for Buck, this wasn’t one of Brach’s finest nights on the hill.
Matt Joyce (double) and Marcus Semien (single) quickly reached, setting Lowrie up with the ideal late-game scenario in front of the home crowd. On a changeup right down the middle of the plate, he crushed a double to the right-center gap, scoring Joyce and making it a brand new ball game. That would’ve been manageable if it had been the end of the inning, but the zero in the outs column proved costly.
With one out, Chad Pinder did all he’d need to do to push the Athletics three outs away from a win, flying out to right field and knocking in a run on a sacrifice fly. 5-4 was the score, and despite Richard Bleier entering and keeping it a one-run game, that’s the way this one would end.
Blake Treinen set the 8-9-1 portion of the lineup down in order, closing out the game and sending the Orioles record to 57-59 on the season.
Tomorrow, the Orioles will have Dylan Bundy to the hill to battle against Oakland and Sean Manaea. The Saturday night game will start an hour earlier with the first pitch scheduled for 9:05 p.m. ET.