This game should have been an Oakland win from the outset. Starting pitcher Andrew Cashner was ripe for the picking. Cashner is tied as the worst starter with runners in scoring position (RISP). This did not, however, come into play for the Athletics. A’s starting pitcher Marco Estrada was ready for his first win. Well, one can dream; it sure didn’t turn out that way, but it should have! Estrada left the game with a 1-6 deficit, and the A’s never fully recovered, losing 4-12. While the A’s bats were warm throughout the game, the Athletic pitching just never got ahead of the Orioles. (And that is putting it nicely.) To be honest, all of the Athletic pitchers just looked “off” tonight.
Estrada, a fly ball pitcher who is not overpowering with his fastball, gave up his first hit on a high fastball in the first. But it wasn’t just a standard hit. It was a home run by Trey Mancini. Renato Nunez then doubled but was left stranded after third baseman Hanser Alberto popped it up to Semien. This finished the first with 26 pitches for Estrada.
Estrada continued to struggle in the second. On a curve ball up and no defensive dive from Kendrys Morales, Jesus Sucre singled up the first base line; for the record, that would not have gotten past Canha or Olsen. Richie Martin then followed with a base hit. And the bleeding continued: Cedric Mullins tripled to score Sucre and Martin. Profar, receiving the cutoff made a throwing error trying to gun Mullins as he slid head first into third base. The throw hit of of Mullins and Chapman could not get the ball home quick enough to throw Mullins out. 4-0 Orioles. Yes, it’s still the second inning. And yes, it’s still called a Little League Home run.
A quick third was not in the cards for Estrada who gave up a hit to the leadoff batter Trey Mancini and another to Renato Nunez. Hanser Alberto fouled out to Phegley when trying to put down a bunt. Then came Chris Davis, an 0-45 batting slump and about to go 0-46 to tie the major league record; it would have happened quickly had Profar not tried an over-the-shoulder basket catch to drop the ball in foul territory. Lucky for the A’s but not so lucky for Davis, a fly out to left field sat Chris Davis down, tying the major league record of 0-46 (0-25 for 2019). Estrada, on pitch #72, ended the third by getting Jesus Sucre to fly out to Canha in center. The good news: The A’s got out of the inning without the first two batters scoring.
The fourth inning would be Estrada’s last. With one out, Cedric Mullins picked up his second triple of the game. Jonathan Villar followed with a two-run homer to put 6 on the board for the O’s. Despite a walk to Mancini, Estrada did get out of the inning. On the night he gave up 9 hits and 6 earned runs on 96 pitches. Not the outing that was expected.
Yusmeiro Petit handled the 5th well by sitting down the first three batters. This was in part thanks to Stephen Piscotty who made a sliding catch in foul territory to get the third out. Petit then returned in the 6th but it wasn’t as fruitful. Petit gave up a triple to Richie Martin who then scored on a sacrifice from Cedric Mullins, which put the Orioles up 7-4. This was the last inning for Petit who was replaced by Liam Hendriks at the start of the 7th who did his job despite walking the leadoff batter, Mancini.
Ryan Buchter started the 8th, giving up a hit to Jesus Sucre, #11 on the night for the orioles. Richie Martin followed with a broken bat single to short center. Needless to say, this led to a mound visit and Fernando Rodney heading back onto the bullpen mound. Cedric Mullins then put down a sacrifice bunt to advance the two runners, and that was all for Buchter.
Fernando Rodney, with the infield in and runners on second and third, gave up a 2 RBI hit by Villar, though one could argue that it was poor judgment on Canha’s part, hugging the ball as it dropped within range in front of him. Both runs, of course, charged to Buchter. But Rodney picked up earned runs of his own, giving up a walk and then an RBI single to Trey Mancini who was 3-3 on the night with two walks that moved the Orioles ahead 10-4. After getting Nunez on a slow grounder for out number two, Rodney gave up a two-RBI single: 12-4 Orioles which stayed that way as Rodney struck out Chris Davis.
Hitting was hopeful tonight. After a long weekend, the game started just the way the A’s no-doubt hoped for. On an off-speed pitch, Robbie Grossman went the opposite way for a base hit shot to left field. Chapman then followed with an opposite side shot to right field. With one out Piscotty out to left followed by Khris Davis who was robbed on a hard grounder that should have made it between third and short, but third baseman Hanser Alberto made a tremendous diving stop, gunned the ball to Villar at second who whipped it quickly to first to just beat Davis for a 5-4-3 double play. Still, solid hitting by the Athletics.
In the third, Canha continued increasing his on-base percentage with a walk. Josh Phegley then appeared for his first at-bat. Phegley who caught yesterday in Houston, went 2 for 3 with a walk and had his first home run of the season. Easy to see why Melvin gave him the nod behind the plate today, and it was a great decision. Phegley’s first at-bat was a two-run home run to cut the score 4-2.
But that wasn’t the only Athletic home run of the night. In the fifth, Mark Canha led off by going yard in left center field.
In case you want to see that up-close-and-personal. Sweet swing!
Phegley then grilled a shot to shortstop Richie Martin who made a throwing error to give Phegley the base. With one out, Chapman got his third hit in a row but was, unfortunately, left stranded as Piscotty flew out to center field.
In the 6th with runners on first (Profar) and third (Morales), Canha (1-1 with a walk on the night) faced Jimmy Yacabonis. With a full count, Profar started running to 2nd and Canha foul-tipped into the catcher’s glove who then threw quickly to second and was called on a throwing error that allowed Semien to score and Profar to advance to third. One run would be all the A’s picked up in this inning as Phegley grounded to third and was thrown out at first.
The A’s made some noise in the 8th. Khris Davis led off with a base hit and, with one out, Marcus Semien singled. Profar, representing the tying run, faced Yacabonis who, despite a mound visit, was not pulled; this was good for the A’s as he loaded the bases by walking Profar. And that was all she wrote for Yacabonis who was replaced by Mychal Givens with one out. Givens was successful, striking out Canha for the second out. Then—facing Chad Pinder, pinch hitting for Josh Phegley, Givens got out of the huge jam with a grounder to second baseman Villar for the putout at first.
With three outs to go in the 9th, the top of the Athletics order was up. Unfortunately little occurred. Grossman hit a slow roller to first for an unassisted out by Davis. Matt Chapman grounded to third and was thrown out at first, and Piscotty was stopped by a come-backer that that was thrown to Davis at first for the final out.
Other Side Notes:
• In the second inning, it became clear just how slow Kendrys Morales is. Morales hit an easy grounder to second baseman Jonathan Villar; it was bobbled three times, caught between his legs and then, in throwing to first. the ball was wide and required Davis to stretch and dig it out. Morales was out even after all that. It’s hard to know just how many alligators were counted in watching him lumber to first, but it was a lot. Add to this his seemingly inability to dive for balls to his left and confidence in Morales has to be low. Luckily the A’s are only paying $555,000 on Morales’ 11.45 million dollar contract!
• Orioles third baseman gave a gold-glove performance and robbed more than one hit from A’s batters.
• Orioles first baseman took the major league record extending his slump to 0-49 despite great wood on the balls and line shots spread around the outfield. Oriole fans were wonderful, giving standing ovations and cheering him on throughout the game, just the way it should be.
• Remember, there’s always tomorrow.