Kendall Graveman had his third consecutive bad start as the Orioles hit 6 home runs (4 against Graveman) and crushed the A's 11-3 to win the 3-game series in Baltimore.
A's Start Strong...
Billy Burns kicked off the game with an infield single, narrowly beating out Schoop’s throw due to his amazing speed. Tillman followed up by hitting Mark Canha with a pitch. Reddick did his thing yet again after 7 hits yesterday and went to left field to drive in Billy Burns. Jed Lowrie tried to advance Canha to 3rd with a fly ball, but his hit was too shallow. Stephen Vogt hit what could have been a sac fly if Lowrie had gone a little deeper, but ultimately just advanced Canha to 3rd with 2 outs. Danny Valencia, in his 2nd game back from the DL, hit a Baltimore Chop that Tillman lost in the sun, allowing everyone to advance safely and bringing the score to 2-0. Alonso kept the hit parade going and lobbed a ball into left field just a few feet fair to bring Reddick home to make it 3-0, but Valencia was thrown out at the plate on a questionable send by 3rd base coach Ron Washington. Gallego is gone in body, but not in spirit.
...But That's It
Chris Tillman kept the A’s off the board after the first inning despite having shaky command all day. He gave up a few hits and plenty of walks walks and the A’s had opportunities to score in several innings, but they ultimately just weren’t able to do anything. Tillman made mistakes in the zone, leaving fastballs in hittable locations, but the A’s just fouled them off. It was especially frustrating to see our hitters fail to capitalize on Tillman’s mistakes in contrast to Graveman getting punished relentlessly the first few innings on seemingly every pitch he threw in the strike zone. Tillman was ultimately able to figure it out and regain his control after a rough opening while Graveman just spiraled out of control. The Orioles’ starter ultimately pitched 6.1 innings and only gave up the 3 runs in the first, and even struck out the side in the 6th inning.
Rickard made a couple of nice running catches in left field to rob Mark Canha and Stephen Vogt of extra base hits. The A's flashed warning track power on several occasions, but couldn't come up with the critical long ball like Baltimore did time and time again.
The Orioles bullpen was similarly effective in shutting the A’s down. Brach pitched 1 and 2/3 innings of scoreless ball and Worley shut things down in the 9th.
Kendall Graveman gave up a leadoff walk to Joey Rickard, then allowed him to advance to 2nd on a wild pitch. The wild pitch didn’t end up mattering, as Graveman promptly gave up a home run to Manny Machado on an elevated fastball. Graveman gave up another walk before finally, mercifully getting a double play to get the first 2 outs. But he still couldn’t escape quickly, giving up a sharp drive to left by Trumbo (who honestly could have done more with the pitch) before finally getting a fly ball to end the inning.
On the first pitch of the 2nd inning, Pedro Alvarez hit an absolute bomb onto Eutaw Street to tie the game. And then Graveman gave up a solo home run to Schoop, to bring the total to 3 home runs in the first 8 batters, 4-3 Orioles. Ryan Dull started warming up in the pen, but Graveman started to look like a groundball pitcher after bomb #3, getting a strikeout and 2 quick groundouts to end the 2nd.
Kendall Graveman wasn’t through with the terribleness, though, and the brief stint of groundouts proved to be a mirage. He opened his half of the 3rd by hitting the batter and then giving up yet another bomb, this time to Mark Trumbo, to make the score 6-3. Melvin finally yanked Graveman a couple of batters later, but it was far too late. Dull got a popout on the first pitch for the third out of the 3rd.
Once again, Oakland’s lack of a long man in the bullpen has proven a critical weakness. There is nobody to take over in situations like this where the starting pitcher flounders early. It's been said before that you can tell whether you're getting Good Graveman or Bad Graveman within the first couple of batters, and it was painfully obvious from the moment he started pitching that he didn't have it today. And yet we rode him until the game already felt out of reach. We have 3 games against the brutal Boston offense over the next 3 days, so I understand not wanting to rely on the bullpen too much, but this game was a lost cause before it was 1/3 done and it didn't necessarily have to be that way with better roster construction. Hopefully this will serve as a wake-up call for the front office, as even Eric Surkamp probably couldn’t have done any worse than Graveman did today.
A's Bullpen: Grand Slam, Phegley Pitches
Ricker hit home run #5 of the day for the Orioles in the bottom of the 4th, but it was an otherwise quiet inning for Ryan Dull.
Dull pitched part of the 5th before Rzepczynski took over, finishing the 5th and 6th with a couple of dicey moments but no runs yielded.
J.B. Wendelken made his major league debut in the bottom of the 7th. He gave up a first pitch single to Adam Jones on a fastball that missed its spot, but escaped without any further damage. He got his first major league strikeout and featured a fantastic change-up that he wasn’t afraid to throw several times in a row with great results.
Wendelken was...considerably less solid in the 8th. He gave up a couple of singles and a walk to load the bases with Manny Machado batting and 0 outs. And then the most predictable thing in human history happened and Machado hit a grand slam to utterly shut the book on this game, Orioles 11, A’s 3. It was the Orioles’ 6th home run of the day.
Sadly, one of the few redeeming moments outside of the 1st inning in this game came when catcher Josh Phegley was tasked with getting the final 2 outs of the 8th inning. He threw a fastball at 86 and a slider and was able to strike out Adam Jones and get a pop out from Trumbo. It only took 10 pitches to get the 2 outs. Our catcher got outs more easily than our starting pitcher today, which pretty much says it all.
Reddick On Fire
Pretty much the one real positive from today's game was the continuation of Reddick's hot streak. Overall, he went 10 for 12 in the Baltimore series and tied the Oakland record today for consecutive at-bats with a hit at 8. He has an opportunity to break the franchise record tomorrow, so that will be exciting.