It was a familiar sight on Tuesday night at Camden Yards — an Orioles starter taken out of the game early and a bullpen forced to then pick up the slack. Not good.
There were a few other familiar sights early on, like catcher Pedro Severino throwing out a runner at second base in the top of the first inning. There was also a single in the bottom of the first by the recently red-hot Trey Mancini, although that would prove to be his only hit of the night.
On the pitching side, Orioles left-hander John Means deserved better in his first major league start. The scoreboard may have said 5-0 A’s when he departed the game, but that was mostly on account of some strikingly bad luck.
Leading off the second inning, Athletics slugger Khris Davis reached via infield hit on a dribbler that Means tried to field at the expense of covering first base. Then Chad Pinder reached on a dribbler to the left side of the infield that Means had no play on, putting runners on first and second with no outs.
The lefty responded with a strikeout and groundout before the A’s pushed their first run across on an infield hit deep in the hole at shortstop. The next batter hit a weak grounder that Hanser Alberto charged and fired to first, but the throw pulled Rio Ruiz off the bag and allowed another run to score. That’s three infield hits and an error in the inning.
Then Marcus Semien delivered the big blow with a three-run home run to left field. Heading into the bottom of the second, the O’s were down 5-0.
The very next inning, Means retired the side in order on 11 pitches.
The Orioles had a chance to sneak back into the game in the third when they put two runners on to start the inning. But Richie Martin was thrown out at home trying to score from second on a questionable send by third base coach Jose Flores, with the O’s down 5-0. Then the Birds attempted a double steal and Joey Rickard was thrown out at second. Trey Mancini flew out to end the inning and there were no runs scored.
Newly recalled Evan Phillips entered in the fourth for the Birds to try and soak up some innings, ending Means’ night at 60 pitches. The left-hander’s final pitching line looked this: 3 IP, 4 H, 5 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 SO, 1 HR.
Phillips did an honorable job eating up innings, pitching three scoreless while striking out four batters. The same could not be said about the relievers who followed him.
The Orioles hitters were hacking away early and often, as evidenced by Brett Anderson’s ability to pitch deep into the game. He had only 70 pitches through six innings, and he retired 11 batters in a row starting part way through the third and lasting into the seventh. At least Dwight Smith Jr. continues in to impress, going 2-for-4 with a steal and a sliding catch in left field.
Richard Bleier came on in relief to start the seventh for the O’s, and the very first pitch he threw was redirected into the left field seats, courtesy of Jurickson Profar. 6-0 A’s. Bleier calmed down after that, getting three outs without any more damage. But the eighth inning would prove more difficult.
The Orioles strung together a pair of singles with one out in the seventh, but Anderson struck out the next batter, Ruiz, on three pitches. With two outs, Pedro Severino hit a lofty fly ball to deep center that Ramon Laureano got a glove on but failed to corral. Two runs scored, and Anderson was removed from the game.
His final pitching line was 6.2 innings, seven hits, two earned runs, one walk and four strikeouts. The seventh inning would end with the score 6-2, A’s.
It’s become painfully obvious that the Orioles’ Bleier is not the same pitcher he was before surgery. Not yet at least. He loaded the bases with one out in the eighth before giving way to Miguel Castro. A single, a double and a sacrifice fly later, the score was 10-2, A’s. Bleier was charged with four earned runs in 1.1 innings, leaving his ERA at 14.54 for the year.
Castro isn’t doing so great himself in 2019. He struggled through 1.2 innings, allowing five hits, a walk and four earned runs. Two balks in the ninth contributed to a couple of those earned runs, and the score was 13-2 when Castro walked off the mound. His ERA is now 11.57.
Two games into this series and the Orioles and Athletics each have a blowout apiece, leaving another two games between these teams. Alex Cobb was the scheduled starter tomorrow for the O’s until he was placed on the injured list earlier today. Speculation is that lefty Josh Rogers will be called up to take Cobb’’s place, on account of him being scratched from his minor league start tonight. But we will await official announcement from the team regarding that.