Game #61: Deep bench, bullpen beat Orioles 4-3 in 11

You're it! - Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

A tight affair all the way, tonight's game featured dingers, flops, and Orioles TOOTBLANS.

Both Tommy Milone and Wei-Yin Chen turned in quality starts and the bench and bullpen came up huge as the Athletics defeated the Baltimore Orioles 4-3 in 11 innings on the road in Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The A's improve to 7-3 in extra innings and 38-23, good for a six game lead in the West as the Angels face the White Sox tonight.

Donnie and D-No dingers

Wei-Yin Chen, in three career starts against the Athletics, was 3-0 with a 0.44 ERA entering tonight's game. Josh Donaldson quickly disabused Chen of any notion that those superlative marks would continue against this Athletics squad by knocking home a solo home run in the first. To lead off the second, Derek Norris sent a dinger of his own a few rows into the left field seats to give the A's a 2-0 lead going to the bottom of the second.

Milone escapes the second

First, this from Craig Gentry.

Meow.

Setting down the first five Orioles, Tommy Milone appeared to be cruising as J.J. Hardy stepped up in the second. Hardy zipped a groundball down the line, but Donaldson made a great sprawling stop. His throw to Kyle Blanks was unfortunately off line, but he had prevented an early double. Steve Pearce singled to move Hardy to second and then Jonathan Schoop singled home Hardy. With the prospect of a crooked number looming, Milone bore down and struck out Nick Hundley to hold the Orioles to a run. 2-1 A's after two.

Machado miffed

In the bottom of the third, Manny Machado singled and advanced to second on Pearce's groundout to Milone. With two out, Adam Jones grounded to Donaldson. As Machado began running toward third, Donaldson was in a position to easily tag Machado out. As Machado tried to jump out of the way of the tag, Donaldson applied your run-of-the-mill chest-high tag. As Machado fell backward, he slammed his helmet to the infield and Donaldson appeared puzzled as to why he did that. Machado and Donaldson exchanged a few words, Machado got up in Donaldson's face, the benches cleared, the bullpens emptied (comically out of the same door), and a whole lot of nothing happened. Donaldson just stood there smiling alongside third base umpire Gabe Morales both seemingly wondering "What was that about?"

Orioles offense online

The middle innings were a quiet period for the A's offense, but the Orioles began to wake up. Chris Davis led off the bottom of the fourth with a 1-2 opposite-field home run a few rows deep in left to tie the game. J.J. Hardy doubled next. Avoiding the crooked number yet again, Pearce grounded to Milone moving Hardy to third with one out; Milone struck out Schoop to take away the sacrifice fly; and Nick Hundley lined out to left to hold the Orioles to a 2-2 tie.

In the fifth, Manny Machado came up for the first time since getting in Donaldson's face earlier. Whatever works for him, I guess, but Machado homered to move the Orioles ahead 3-2.

Chen chin music

With only 77 pitches through five, and having set down eight straight batters to that point, Wei-Yin Chen looked like he might pitch into the seventh inning if he had a good sixth. Gentry flew out to right on three pitches and Jed Lowrie grounded his first pitch to J.J. Hardy. And then Josh Donaldson came up with two outs and nobody on base for the first time since Machado got huffy.

Chen threw up-and-in, knocking Donaldson back with some chin music. Home plate umpire Larry Vanover had nothing to say about that. Curiously, Chen continued the at bat as if he was not going to go after Donaldson again. But then, on 3-and-2, Chen threw another high-and-in fastball that hit Donaldson. Vanover again had nothing to say. Donaldson looked to his dugout to perhaps ask Bob Melvin if he was going to do anything and took his base. Meanwhile, Vanover walked the ball back to Chen and possibly gave him a private warning.

Who knows what happened there, but as for the game, Chen threw away any chance of pitching in the eighth with his six-pitch hit-by-pitch. Cespedes flew out next, but Chen sat on 93 pitches after six innings. He left after getting one out in the seventh.

Linnnnnnnnnned.....FAIR!

The Orioles had to turn to their bullpen in the seventh inning. Not too bad, but the Orioles just called up two pitchers from their AAA club after using five pitchers yesterday against Texas. In the top of the eighth, set-up man Darren O'Day entered the eighth inning in relief of Ryan Webb, and Crisp entered the game for Gentry. O'Day walked Crisp on four pitches, and the stolen base alarm was raised. Lowrie struck out, but with Donaldson batting, Crisp took second base to get the tying run into scoring position.

Yoenis Cespedes, oh Yo, so good. Yo lined a double over a jumping Manny Machado, ("CHALK FLEW!") scoring Crisp to tie the game at three in the eighth. O'Day actually managed to strike out Derek Norris to get all three outs on strikes in the inning.

Don't Run on the Athletics

Obviously Josh Reddick is known for his right field arm, but did you know that Yoenis Cespedes and Brandon Moss also possess the ability to throw a baseball? The Orioles did not.

In the bottom of the eighth, Chris Davis softly hit a Luke Gregerson fastball into the left-field gap. Cespedes cut it off and threw it in towards Nick Punto as Davis rounded first. Though off-line, Davis was either slow, or tweaked something, or just could not believe the ball would come in, but he loped toward second and dove awkwardly to second base as Punto dived back toward Davis. After showing the ball to second base umpire Adrian Johnson, Davis was called out at second at the eighth inning was over.

Fernando Abad took the bump still tied in the bottom of the 10th. Abad was not hitting his spots, leaving up an 0-2 fastball to Nick Markakis to let him reach first base. Manny Machado sacrifice bunted, and the A's walked Nelson Cruz intentionally. With Jim Johnson warming, Bob Melvin came out in a slow jog, which indicated that he was going to ask his pitcher whether he thought he had the stuff to get the next two outs. With Chris Davis on deck behind Adam Jones, Melvin clearly wanted to use Abad against Davis instead of Sean Doolittle on the road in extra innings.

Apparently answering in the affirmative, Abad gave up a single to Adam Jones, but Brandon Moss saved the game with a brilliant one-hop throw to Norris, who in turn made a spectacular tag on Nick Markakis.

Nelson Cruz ended up at third base on the play, however, and Chris Davis was up with two out. Abad worked Chris Davis to 2-and-2 and then, perhaps thinking of Rajai Davis's steal of third against the A's last week at the Coliseum, Cruz tried to steal home. Don't run on Abad. Definitely don't run on Abad with Chris Davis batting. Definitely don't run on Abad when the base you're trying to steal is home base.

Nico noted that Abad was still on the rubber when he threw the ball, and thus it should have qualified as a pitch. It would have been ball three either way, but theoretically Davis could have been out on strikes if it was in the zone.

Let's finish this thing

Bob Melvin waited for the bottom half of the order to come up to begin emptying his bench. Now entering the AAA-callup portion of their bullpen, the Orioles sent in Evan Meek, and the A's sent up John Jaso. Jaso doubled right away on a first-pitch liner into the power alley, he was safe at second ahead of Jones' throw because Jaso did not hesitate a second in going for the double.

After Brandon Moss struck out, Alberto Callaspo hit a grounder to J.J. Hardy. The 2012 Gold Glove winner booted it while thinking about Jaso headed to third, and everyone was safe. Stephen Vogt pinch-hit for Kyle Blanks, and if you remember Vogt's walk-off winning hit in last year's ALDS Game 2, you know what today's go-ahead hit from him looked line sending home Jaso. Nick Punto unfortunately lined out to Hardy, and Hardy walked to second to double up Callaspo, giving the game to Sean Doolittle for the 11th. Besides the game, something else was at stake:

What put the A's in this position was the versatility off the bench. Jaso in the platoon and Vogt's ability to play right field put all the right pieces in the right place to give Doolittle the chance to make this all happen. Doolittle did not dissapoint. Three strikeouts swinging, getting Chris Davis, J.J. Hardy, and Steve Pearce to whiff, ended the game to give the A's the 4-3 victory in 11.

Tomorrow's game starts at 4:15 pm Pacific Time. This is a change from the originally printed schedule that listed 3:15 pm. If you're early though, that's cool we can talk about the draft or something.

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