If you woke up this Sunday morning hoping to see the A's play another exciting close game in Baltimore you were sorely disappointed. The fifth inning featured an A's season high in runs (9) and hits (10), but unfortunately it wasn't the A's half of the inning. Instead, it was the Orioles who batted around the home half of the fifth eventually reaching their own season high in hits (26) for the game to give Baltimore a blow-out win. With the loss the A's are 17 games under .500 meaning today is the low water mark of the 2015 season for the Green & Gold.
Kendall Struggles Early
The game started normal enough with the A's stranding two runners in the top of the first before the Orioles got a home run from Gerardo Parra in the bottom. The A's top of the first featured a double from Crisp, who is starting to hit a lot more like Coco, but Lawrie failed to capitalize on the opportunity after an 11-pitch at bat. The A's answered Parra's home run though when Marcus Semien hustled to second after Chris Davis and Jon Schoop mis-communicated on a pop-up in the shift. With Semien on second Sam Fuld doubled him home to tie the game at 1-1. Going into the bottom of the second inning Kendall Graveman was looking for a shut-down inning.
The second inning has not been friendly to the A's on this road trip. In Toronto, the A's gave up a combined 14 runs in the three bottom of the second innings. After not allowing the Orioles to score in the bottom of the second on either Friday or Saturday nights, today the A's decided to make up for it by allowing Baltimore to score four runs in the second.
Kendall's breaking pitches were not sharp today as Schoop and Steve Clevenger started the inning with back-to-back singles. After a J.J. Hardy strikeout, Henry Urritia came to the plate with Schoop on third and Clevenger on first. Urritia hit a classic Baltimore Chop that Schoop could have scored on because of the high bounce, but he was undecided, so when Kendall fielded the chop he caught Schoop in no man's land. After a rundown both Baltimore runners advanced to the second and third, but the lead runner was out.
With Caleb Joseph coming to the plate with two outs, it looked like Kendall would escape the early two-on no-out jam. Today was not Kendall's day, however, as Joseph would double to score Clevenger and Urritia. That was followed by a Manny Machado double and Parra single. Machado would score on Parra's single, but in what is perhaps the A's only defensive highlight, Fuld was able to throw out Parra trying to stretch out a double. Going into the third inning the A's were down 5-1, which in hindsight doesn't seem too bad.
The A's just couldn't respond in the middle innings with a meaningful rally. Brett Lawrie hit a solo home run to lead off the fourth and Billy Butler singled right after him, but the A's offensive effort ended there. The A's went down 1-2-3 in the third and Orioles starter Wei-Yin Chen was able to retire six in a row after Butler's single. The A's were able to battle Wei to elevate his pitch count, but were unable to break through for runs.
Meanwhile Baltimore kept getting hits. Adam Jones led off the third with a solo shot for the O's sixth run. Then, in the fourth Kendall was pulled after walking Caleb Joseph having thrown only 70 pitches in his 3.1 innings of work. Dan Otero came in with one on and one out, but induced Machado into an inning-ending double play that had everyone reminiscing about the 2014 Dan Otero. After the A's went down 1-2-3 in the top of the fifth the score was 6-2 O's. This brings us to the bottom of the fifth, and in case you missed it, for the A's the bottom of the fifth was a disaster of titanic proportions.
The Wheels Fall Off
The Orioles started today's road to history with an innocent single by Parra, but the wheels came off for the A's with the next batter. Adam Jones hit a soft liner that Fuld made a diving play on, but the ball went in and out of his glove. Then Davis singled to score Parra, which was followed by a Schoop single to load the bases. Clevenger was only able to ground into a fielder's choice, but another run scored putting the contest at 8-2 Baltimore. Dan was still in the game and he struck out Hardy, so with two outs and only two runs in, it seemed the conflagration may be quelled.
The quest to achieve the third out in the bottom of the fifth inning was the ugliest sequence of baseball played so far by the 2015 Athletics. In a season that has apparently fallen down a well, the A's have reached rock bottom. Urritia came up with two outs and two on, but he would single home both runners. This was followed by a Joseph single to give the O's two on and Machado coming to the plate. Dan Otero, still in the game at this point, induced Machado into what should have been an inning ending pop-out. Instead, Semien and Coco collided both trying to make the catch allowing two more runs to score. This comical display was followed by a Parra liner to left-center. Coco and Burns both made a bead on the ball, which was curling towards left. As ball, Coco, and Burns converged, Coco decided to defer to the center-fielder Burns, but he was too far away from the ball, which delicately landed between the two outfielders. The miscue allowed the O's 13th run to score and marked the end of Dan's day. Final line: 1.1 IP, 8 hits, 8 ER, 1 K.
Edward Mujica came in to face Jones and calm down the situation with a quick out . . . but whoops! Two-run home run, Jones' second of the day, and just like that we are right back in the flames. Davis would follow with another single, the tenth hit for the Orioles in the inning. Schoop would thankfully end the madness with a grounder for the third out. A total of nine runs scored by the O's put the game at 15-2 going into the sixth inning.
The crooked numbers in the box score are video game-esque. Six Orioles had multiple hits. Parra finished five for six; a triple away from the cycle. The top third of the Orioles order each had three RBIs and scored a total of eight runs. The 26 total hits for the Orioles is the most ever given up by an Oakland A's team. According to Susan Slusser, the last time the A's gave up this many hits was April 23, 1955.
The real unfortunate aspect of the game was the poor defensive effort by the A's outfield. Recently Burns has been making strides at the position, including a nice read on a liner off of Urritia's bat in the fourth inning of today's game. But as the center-fielder Burns needs to take charge of the outfield. He showed hesitation when it came time to communicate with Coco in left, perhaps intimidated by the veteran presence. And speaking of Coco, while his bat is finally coming alive on this trip, his left field play leaves much to be desired; mis-playing balls on the turf in Toronto and today slamming into Semien on a routine pop-up, although Coco says he called off Semien. Walk-off losses on Friday and Saturday were tough, but at least competitive. Today's paltry effort was downright embarrassing.
Listening to Awful Blowout Loss Baseball
The last four innings ticked by in a torturous blur that saw the Orioles score three more runs for an 18-2 final score. Two highlights to mention: Everyone's favorite clean-up hitter Danny Valencia was robbed of a home run by Urritia in the seventh. Also, Ike Davis pitched another scoreless inning in relief. He was last called upon on April 21st against the Angels. Today he gave up a double and a walk, but K'ed Schoop and induced Clevenger into a pop-up to keep his ERA a solid 0.00 for the season.
The A's oddly stay in Baltimore for a rare four-game series that continues into Monday. The scheduled starter is Sonny Gray, which is too bad because I was really looking forward to a match-up against Clayton Kershaw on Tuesday's bobblehead day.