I'm not going to bury the lead, so let's just get right to it. This game's late innings were far more exciting than they had any right to be; by the fifth inning, the A's were staked to a comfortable 10-0 lead, and once Scott Kazmir exited the game after his seven amazing innings, this one should have been an easy cruise to the finish.
But the dominoes that started falling on Friday night finally picked up speed in this one, and when the literal dust had settled over Camden Yards, the A's lost one player to injury and one player to ejection, and the Orioles villain, whom Baltimore might want to get some control over, finally, finally headed to the showers, after throwing his bat at the A's. You read that right.
Let me back up. For those of you who missed Friday night's kerfuffle, Manny Machado took umbrage with Josh Donaldson's tag at third base, fell awkwardly, and started a benches-clearing incident when he went after Donaldson. More charitable readings of this incident went something like, "Well...he was scared because of his knee injuries, and fell awkwardly, and overreacted...", which would have been all well and good until you saw today's game. Even giving Machado the very best benefit of the doubt; the one where he didn't really mean to cold-cock Derek Norris in the head on his back-swing so hard that he left the game and is likely concussed, you might change your mind when you see what happened in the eighth, if you weren't already tipped off by the fact that Machado didn't acknowledge the injury, offer any kind of apology, or even act like he didn't hit our catcher in the head on purpose or anything.
The A's, who had stayed above the fray until this point in the weekend, were probably hot as hell over the Norris injury, likely elected Abad to throw at or near Machado in his eighth inning at-bat. Abad threw the first pitch down and in, nearly hitting him in the lower legs, and fired the next pitch inside, as well. Machado reacted about as well as one would expect; that is a hasn't-been-seen-since-Milton-Bradley level of overreaction, as he hauled off and hurled his bat in the direction of the now-third-baseman Alberto Callaspo, who was understandably concerned, and the benches and dugouts emptied for real this time, you guys, because there was a BAT FLYING AT OUR PLAYERS.
The only thing that saved John Jaso, one of the heroes of the game, from a suspension for running out of the dougout and punching Machado in the face was the Orioles first-base coach Wayne Kirby, who all-but-tackled Jaso around the waist, before things really got going. Kudos to Kirby for keeping a cool head, and protecting our players, as well as his.
Needless to say, Machado was kicked out of the game, and I hope will be suspended with a anger management class requirement, because holy overreaction with a dangerous weapon today, Batman. I have no desire to see a re-run of Milton Bradley play out in Major League baseball. Abad was also thrown out of the game, which was expected, I'm sure, and Ryan Cook sort of finished the inning. Well, he finished it, but it was good that the A's had a 10-run lead at the time.
So, somewhere in all of this was a real-life baseball game, believe it or not, and one that included Brandon Moss' second grand slam in fewer than 10 days. The A's only had 10 hits to score their 11 runs, but they were gifted 11 walks, so there's that. Jaso and Nick Punto, who batted second, much to many of our dismay at the time, both had amazing days; Jaso was 2-6 with 4 RBI, and Punto was 2-3 with 2 RBI and 2 walks. Interestedly enough, all three catchers were in the starting lineup today, which is the only reason that the A's didn't lose the DH when Norris went down; Vogt replaced him from the outfield. And no one will be happier to get out of Baltimore than Josh Donaldson, who had a worse day than yesterday's golden sombrero, if you can believe it, but he made five outs in his first three at-bats, including two outs at home with the bases loaded and no one out in his 0-5, 8 left on base performance. Luckily, the A's didn't need any offensive production from him, but they did love his glove; do not miss the replays of his third inning play.
The scoring started in the third inning, as Ubaldo Jimenez walked Norris, Callaspo and Blanks to open the inning. Jaso hit a ball that was called a grand slam on the field, but was reviewed and turned into a double and 2 RBI. Punto walked to re-load the bases, and after Donaldson forced the runner at home, Brandon Moss hit a grand slam to put the A's up 6-0, and send Jimenez to the showers. A Callaspo double and a Jaso single brought in the A's seventh run in the fourth inning, and after the trio of Norris, Callaspo and Blanks walked again in the fifth, a Jaso ground-out brought in the A's eighth run. Punto's single made it a 10-0 affair, and the way Kazmir was pitching, he needed no support.
Even with impressively long delays while the A's were scoring, Kazmir stayed sharp; allowing just 4 hits and 2 walks in his seven innings, while striking out seven. Abad nearly finished an inning before being tossed, and let's just say that Cook wasn't quite prepared to pitch; he walked in the only run for the Orioles. A Gentry single and a Blanks single in the ninth would make sure the A's added an even 10 runs to their run differential, and Dan Otero pitched a perfect ninth after the A's challenged the last play of the game (hee!) to win.
So the A's have won four out of six and both series of the road trip before heading into their rival's ballpark tomorrow night, looking to repeat their success against the Angels. They will also try not to throw things, like PROJECTILE WEAPONS at any of the games. We'll have all the action for you right here at 7:05 tomorrow.