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Orioles rally but then fall apart, lose 8-4 to Athletics

The pitching and defense let us down again.

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Baltimore Orioles
Hey Gunnar
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Orioles tonight appeared to overcome their starting pitching when they tied the game at 4-4 in the seventh inning. It gave the team new life, but only for a brief moment. The top of the eighth was an embarrassment as the A’s stormed back to score three runs in the eighth on bunts and a defensive brain fart. The offense looked defeated after that as they went quietly in the eighth and ninth, leading to an 8-4 loss.

Dean Kremer came into this game looking to improve on his first two disappointing starts of the year. It didn’t really work out that way, starting right away. After a leadoff double by Tony Kemp and a long fly ball out, Kremer just barely hit Ramon Laureano to put two runners on. That brought Brent Rooker to the plate.

If you haven’t heard of Brent Rooker, it’s ok. He played in 16 games between the Padres and Royals last year, and he has not shown himself to be much of a hitter in the majors yet. But that didn’t stop him from hitting a ball 420 feet to center field when Kremer gave him a pitch in the meat of the strike zone. It was just the second home run of Rooker’s career and the first since 2020.

The Orioles attempted to erase the three-run deficit in the second inning, but a promising inning fell apart quickly. Ramón Urías singled and Gunnar Henderson walked to bring up one of the team’s hottest hitter, Jorge Mateo. Mateo lined a ball down the left field line for a double, knocking in Urías and putting runners on second and third.

After a lineout from Adam Frazier, Ryan McKenna launched a deep fly ball that looked like it would drive in the second run. And it did, but the right fielder, Rooker, dropped the ball to allow McKenna to reach. Mateo scampered down to third but McKenna only made it to first. He was then wiped out by a double play to end the inning.

After the Rooker homer in the first, Kremer put together a nice stretch, retiring 11 out of 13 batters to get through the fourth inning. It looked like maybe he had pulled himself together and I was just starting to feel a little good about him again. Then the fifth inning happened.

With the score just 3-2 in, Kremer gave up another home run to start the fifth. This one was hit by Carlos Pérez. It sailed over Mount Walltimore and two the wind out of Kremer’s sails. One batter later he issued two one-out walks and that was the end of the road for the starting pitcher.

The Orioles turned to Mike Baumann with two runners on and just one out, and Baumann got the best possible outcome: an inning-ending double play. Nice!

Baumann liked the double play so much that he set up his own in the next inning. He sandwiched a flyout between two singles to put runners on the corners with one out. But Kevin Smith did him a favor with a ground ball that again got him out of the inning. Well done, Big Mike.

After squandering a two-on with no outs situation in the fifth inning, the Orioles finally rallied in the seventh.

With Frazier on base, the Orioles sent pinch hitter Cedric Mullins to the plate. Mullins hit a ball to the right side that just squirted through for a single. It was the kind of hit that probably wouldn’t have been last year when before the shift rules. Frazier scored to make it a one-run game.

Austin Hays made the second out, but moved Mullins to second. That allowed Adley Rustchman to be get the clutch hit. He knocked in Mullins to tie the game. That was all they’d get, but for a moment hope was back. It only lasted a moment.

Keegan Akin had pitched in the seventh inning and looked pretty good, and Brandon Hyde sent him back out for the eighth. I know the bullpen is stretched thin right now, but in the bottom of the seventh the cameras had caught Cionel Pérez throwing in the bullpen and Bryan Baker warming up. Would things have gone better if one of them had started the eighth? Maybe not, but who knows.

Akin started off the inning by giving up back-to-back singles, and just like that it was time for Pérez to come into the game. He has been one of the team’s most reliable relief pitchers, but he was not tonight. In fairness to him, he wasn’t getting smacked all around the ballpark. But he just couldn’t get guys out.

The first batter he faced, Aledmys Díaz pushed, a bunt to the first base side of the mound. Pérez had fallen off to the third base side and the ball died as he chased after that. Bases loaded, no outs.

Jesús Aguilar hit a fly ball to left field that easily scored the runner on third to give the A’s a 5-4 lead. But for some reason, Hays threw the ball in to second base instead of third. That allowed Jace Peterson to move to third, where he scored on a bunt from the next batter, Kevin Smith. What the heck, Hays?

It was the second time Peterson took advantage of the Orioles’ bad defense in the game. In the sixth inning, Peterson was on first base when McKenna caught a fly ball in center. He was so lackadaisical making the catch that Peterson was able to tag up and get to second. Luckily no runs scored in that instance.

These outfielders are NOT on my good side.

Anyway, the A’s scored one more fun off of Cionel Pérez via a single before the inning was finally over. Pérez was back out there for the ninth and just looked lost. He gave up another run and left with the bases loaded and one out. Thankfully, Logan Gillaspie was able to get an inning-ending double play.

The batters went 1-2-3 in the ninth to end the game.

After last night’s excitement, there wasn’t much good to find in this game. There will always be games like that, of course, but the defensive misplays and the poor pitching are getting hard to watch. The offense can’t have a rare off day without the team completely falling apart. At least Gunnar looked pretty good. He reached base twice with a hit and a walk and made a nice play in the field.

The Orioles have one more chance to win the series against the A’s. Tomorrow’s game is a getaway game at 1:05 with former A Cole Irvin on the mound. He’ll also be looking for redemption after a few bad starts. Maybe he’ll get it?