The Orioles were playing catch up all afternoon against the A’s. And every time they scratched a run or two across the board, Oakland would answer respond with a couple more. Ultimately, the Birds couldn’t close the gap.
Athletics starting pitcher Paul Blackburn is a ground ball machine. He played to his strength with a sinker in the low 90s, inducing ground balls for two of the three outs in the first. The right-hander put the Orioles down in order in the second, and got a key ground ball double play to speed up his third inning of work.
Orioles starter Tyler Wells worked around a double in the first for a scoreless frame. Then he retired the side in the second with the help of a defensive gem. Anthony Santander made an excellent catch in the deepest part of left field, ranging all the way to the wall to make a leaping catch for the third out.
In the bottom of the third, the A’s broke a scoreless tie with a solo home run by 23-year-old center fielder Cristian Pache, who was a big piece of the Matt Olson trade with Atlanta back in March. Before Pache’s dinger, there were zero home runs in the first three games of the series.
But the trouble didn’t end there for Wells and the Orioles. Tony Kemp cracked a double that bounced off the base of the right field wall, below the 362 mark. Austin Hays made a valiant effort but came up just short of a superb catch. Then A’s third baseman Sheldon Neuse bounced a ground ball single through the right side of the infield to score Kemp. 2-0, A’s.
O’s manager Brandon Hyde pulled Wells with one out in the third and runners on first and second. The young right-hander threw a total of 54 pitches and didn’t allow any walks. But he did surrender five hits, including a home run. Joey Krehbiel came on and put out the fire, inducing a fly ball to deep center and a ground out to second.
With two outs in the fourth and the Orioles up to bat, Trey Mancini seemed to reach base on an error after a ground ball that deflected off the pitcher. But Mancini was tagged out because he turned to his left after running through first base. You don’t see that often. Hyde dashed on the field to argue with first base umpire Rob Drake, and to hold Mancini back.
The incident spilled into the bottom half of the inning. A few pitches into the frame, Mancini got ejected from the Orioles dugout by Drake. Hyde darted onto the field and was promptly ejected as well.
The Orioles got on the scoreboard in the top of the fifth, when Hays knocked an RBI double down the left field line. Ryan Mountcastle led the inning off with a single and scored all the way from first base. The frame ended with a diving catch by A’s right fielder Billy McKinney on a sinking liner in front of him. 2-1, A’s.
Keegan Akin came out of the bullpen to face the A’s in the fifth. Entering the game with 7.2 scoreless innings this year over the course of three relief appearances, Akin’s streak ended in Oakland. Tony Kemp singled with one out and came around to score on Sean Murphy’s two-run homer. 4-1, A’s.
Blackburn’s day ended after five innings and 62 pitches, including 40 strikes. He allowed three hits and one run, with zero walks and four strikeouts.
Given a baserunner in the sixth, the O’s ran themselves out of the inning. Santander worked a two out walk but got himself caught in a pickle between first and second. He was tagged out to end the frame.
Ryan McKenna, who replaced Mancini in the lineup, led off the seventh with a single. Mountcastle joined McKenna on base after getting hit by pitch that glanced off his shoulder and struck his hand. Rougned Odor followed with an RBI single to right, putting runners on the corners. Then Hays came through with an RBI single to left to bring the Orioles within one run. 4-3, A’s.
The Athletics tagged Dillon Tate with a pair of insurance runs in the seventh, on a Neuse single and a Murphy double. 6-3, A’s. Those would prove to be the winning runs.
Cedric Mullins doubled into the right field corner to lead off the eighth, then advanced to third on a wild pitch, and scored on a sacrifice fly off the bat of McKenna. 6-4, A’s. Then Dany Jimenez pitched a scoreless ninth inning to earn his second save of the year. He whiffed Odor and Ramon Urias, and got Hays to fly out.
Baltimore leaves Oakland with one win and three losses. They’ll stay on the West Coast, with a three-game tilt against the Angels starting tomorrow.