Alex Cobb’s season has been trending in the right direction and his ERA recently dipped under five. But the blister problem he’s been battling recently flared up again tonight and caused his removal after only two innings. Mike Wright gave up three runs in his first inning of work and that was enough to carry the A’s to a 3-2 victory over Baltimore. Jonathan Villar drove in both of the Orioles’ runs and the offense managed six hits. Oakland starter Mike Fiers (12-6) allowed just one run in six innings to remain undefeated as an Athletic. The loss dropped the Orioles to 41-103 and they are now 11-26 in one run games.
Cobb’s blister was the story in this game. MASN caught footage of Cobb looking visibly upset during his pre-game bullpen session and he was clearly angry coming off the mound after his second inning. Gary Thorne speculated as to whether the O’s should just shut Cobb down instead of risking the situation getting worse during meaningless games. That will probably be debated in the coming days. It was a very unfortunate turn of events because Cobb looked good tonight. He allowed a hit and a walk during his two scoreless innings. The first two outs of the game were recorded on called strike threes. The short start lowered Cobb’s season ERA to 4.90.
Mike Wright (3-2) would end up taking the loss tonight. He came on to relieve Cobb and promptly allowed the three runs Oakland needed to win. The inning started with Jonathan Lucroy walking on four pitches. After Lucroy advanced on a comebacker, Matt Chapman doubled him home to give Oakland a 1-0 lead. Jed Lowrie walked and Khris Davis singled to score Chapman. Wright struck out Matt Olson on three pitches for the second out but then allowed another RBI single to Stephen Piscotty.
Wright recovered nicely after a rough third inning, and saved his bullpen in doing so. He retired the side in the fourth on only eleven pitches. He came back out for the fifth and struck out Lowrie and Davis swinging to end the inning. His outing ended with him retiring the last seven batters he saw.
Meanwhile, Mike Fiers kept the offense off the board despite allowing some baserunners. He retired the Orioles in order in the first. Adam Jones singled and stole second base in the second inning but was stranded there. Another opportunity presented itself in the third inning when Caleb Joseph singled and Cedric Mullins walked. But Jonathan Villar grounded into a double play to end the inning. Jones collected his second single of the game in the fourth but didn’t advance. The Orioles were retired in order in the fifth inning.
The O’s finally got on the board against Fiers in the sixth inning. Jonathan Villar deposited a 3-1 changeup into the Eutaw Street bleachers to bring the Orioles within two runs. It was his thirteenth homer of the season and seventh since joining Baltimore.
Fiers was removed from the game after six innings of one run ball. Fernando Rodney entered the game in the seventh inning quickly struck out Chris Davis and Joey Rickard (Davis’ third K of the game). Renato Nunez was retired on a ground out to retire the side.
After Mike Wright’s rough third inning, the Orioles bullpen settled in. Yefry Ramirez contributed two scoreless innings (sixth and seventh) and allowed just one hit while striking out two. Tanner Scott entered the game in the top of the eighth and allowed a lead off infield single on a call that was changed from out to safe upon review. (While it was scored a hit, it was a ball that Nunez should have fielded cleanly at third base.) Scott struck out the next two batters before allowing a double. But he retired the next batter to escape with a scoreless inning.
Trailing by two in the bottom of the eighth, the O’s got exactly what they needed against reliever Lou Trivino: a lead off single from Breyvic Valera. Corban Joseph (pinch hitting for his brother) flew out and Mullins struck out. Valera stole second base with Villar batting and that paid dividends. Villar shot an opposite field single to left field to cut Oakland’s lead to 3-2. The vaunted Oakland defense then reared its head. With Villar taking off on the pitch, Mancini hit a line drive to center field. Ramón Laureano laid out to make the catch for the third out of the inning. If the ball had gotten by him, Villar would have easily scored to tie the game.
Mychal Givens pitched a clean ninth inning to give the O’s a shot in the bottom of the frame. Jeurys Familia came on in search of his eighteenth save of the season. Jones grounded out, Davis popped up, and Rickard struck out to end the game.
These two teams will get together again tomorrow, weather permitting. Andrew Cashner (4-14, 4.89) will get the start for the Orioles. The A’s are planning on making it a “bullpen game” with Liam Hendricks (0-1, 6.32) starting.