“In this ballpark, it’s pretty hard to get shutout.”
Orioles Hall of Famer and current MASN broadcaster Jim Palmer made that statement after a leadoff single by Trey Mancini in the sixth inning. The Orioles had yet to score up to that point, and appeared ready to call Palmer’s bluff. Maikel Franco and DJ Stewart followed with singles to load the bases, but Ryan Mountcastle struck out swinging for the first out.
Pedro Severino stepped up next. The MASN booth had been discussing Severino’s lack of RBIs all evening. Severino, who picked up his only RBI this year on a solo shot, finally answered the call. He drove in the O’s first run in 15 innings with a single to trim Oakland’s lead to two.
If only Palmer had said “it’s pretty hard to not score multiple runs.” After a pitching change, Freddy Galvis popped out to second, and Ramon Urias grounded into a fielder’s choice. The Orioles failed to score the remainder of the game.
Baltimore scattered 10 hits, but managed just the one run. Oakland struck early, and held on for a 3-1 victory. The win made it twelve in a row for the Athletics.
Jorge López started for Baltimore and gave the club all that could reasonably be expected. He hit 97 MPH with the fastball in the first inning and appeared to have the breaking ball working early, but lost his control in the second. López walked Mitch Moreland and Sean Murphy to put two on with no out and failed to minimize the damage.
Moreland and Murphy moved up on a wild pitch, and suddenly Oakland had two men in scoring position without putting a ball in play. Galvis made a nice play on an awkward fielder’s choice for the first out, but Stephen Piscotty singled to drive in the A’s’ first run of the game. Former Ranger Elvis Andrus followed with a single the opposite way, and the Birds quickly trailed by two.
López ended the second inning after a mound visit and worked a clean third. He danced around a two-out single in the fourth, but allowed a leadoff home run to Ramon Laureano to start the fifth. Laureano blasted the knuckle curve 428 feet into the visitors bullpen. The blast chased López from the game.
López has allowed at least one home run in all four of his starts. Three runs over four innings seems to be about right for the 28-year-old this year. The stuff is there, but not long term. He’s going to give up a home run, and he’s not going to work past the fifth very often. If he’s on the mound, the Orioles need to score.
They didn’t, of course, but the Birds bullpen kept the door open for a comeback. Travis Lakins Sr. entered and got three outs in the fifth. Dillon Tate kept the A’s of the board in the sixth, and Cole Sulser turned some heads with two clean innings. Sulser struck out Matt Chapman, Moreland and Murphy in order during the eighth. The trio of strikeouts represented the first three K’s by a Baltimore pitcher since López sat down Jed Lowrie in the first inning.
With 10 hits, Baltimore had other opportunities to score. Cedric Mullins led off the first with a double and advanced on a deep fly ball by Austin Hays. Franco walked to put runners on the corners, but Stewart went down swinging to end the inning.
Franco singled in the fourth, and Stewart replaced him after a fielder’s choice. Ryan Mountcastle punched a two-out single to center, and both runners took an extra base when the ball got past the center fielder. Severino failed to check his swing on an 0-2 sinker and the Birds remained scoreless at the time.
Brandon Hyde was not ready to announce a starter for tomorrow at the end of tonight’s game. The Orioles announced that John Means would start Sunday, and Dean Kremer is not yet eligible to return after being optioned last week. Baltimore could piggyback Wade LeBlanc and Adam Plutko, utilize other relievers, or call on someone from the alternate site. Keegan Akin remains an option after being left off the opening day roster.
No matter who Baltimore elects to start, the offense will need to score more than one run. If not, the A’s will be well on their way to lucky 13.