Power, timely hitting, defense, starting pitching, and just enough relief work. The Oakland A’s did it all on Thursday, and it added up to a victory.
The A’s beat the Orioles by a 6-4 margin in their series finale at the Coliseum, holding on amid multiple comeback attempts by Baltimore.
*** Click here to revisit today’s Game Thread! ***
Oakland took an early lead on the strength of a couple homers, then strung together a rally later on for some valuable insurance. On the mound, their starter shut down the opponent’s lineup for five quiet innings, while the bullpen added some drama but never quite blew the save.
Dingers and doubles
The first three games of this series were tight low-scoring affairs, with the two clubs combining for just 10 runs between them. However, both lineups found more success this afternoon, as they matched that three-day total in this contest alone.
The A’s got things going in the 3rd inning by flexing some power. Cristian Pache led off the frame with a wallscraper solo homer, getting a bit of help from the wind but nevertheless giving the ball a ride.
Cristian Pache with a solo shot to left pic.twitter.com/aEZk9hOGbh— A's on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) April 21, 2022
A couple batters later, Tony Kemp nearly went deep too, settling for a double off the wall. He soon came around to score on an RBI single by Sheldon Neuse.
Oakland struck again in the 5th. Kemp singled to set the table, and Sean Murphy annihilated a two-run homer.
Sean Murphy DEEP to left pic.twitter.com/xnARckr8PS— A's on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) April 21, 2022
Baltimore rallied back to cut the lead to 4-3, so the A’s added more in the 7th.
It began with Nick Allen recording his first career MLB hit. The top infield prospect, who is renowned for his defense but ironically made a throwing error earlier in the game, spanked a liner into the right field corner for a double.
FIRST BIG LEAGUE HIT FOR NICK ALLEN pic.twitter.com/DtilzyB8rK— A's on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) April 21, 2022
A couple batters later, Neuse laced an opposite-field single. That drove home Allen, who used every ounce of his excellent speed to barely beat the throw by milliseconds. It was Allen’s first career MLB run, and Neuse’s second RBI hit of the day.
Next up was Murphy, who hit another screamer nearly as hard as his earlier homer. However, this one didn’t quite have the launch angle and it stayed in the park for an RBI double.
By the end of the afternoon, Kemp, Neuse, and Murphy had combined for eight hits in the top three lineup spots. Murphy particularly crushed the ball, registering four pieces of contact with triple-digit exit velocities, ranging from 102 mph up to nearly 108 on the dinger.
- Kemp: 2-for-4, double, 2 runs
- Neuse: 3-for-4, double, 2 RBI (on two separate hits)
- Murphy: 3-for-4, HR, double, 3 RBI
Toss in the homer by Pache, and the rally-sparking double by Allen, and the offense had a productive day.
Oakland’s pitching wasn’t perfect, but it got the job done.
Starter Paul Blackburn continued his hot early season, once again cruising through five innings without much trouble. The Orioles reached base in the 3rd but a double play eliminated the runner. They reached again in the 4th on Allen’s throwing error, but only for a few seconds, because Trey Mancini made a microscopic baserunning error and was called out on a technicality (click here for more details on that weird play). Baltimore finally strung together two hits in the 5th for a run, but by then they were already trailing.
- Blackburn: 5 ip, 1 run, 4 Ks, 0 BB, 3 hits, 62 pitches
The right-hander didn’t miss many bats, and there were some loud outs along the way, but the end result was another solid and efficient five innings in another A’s victory.
The bullpen ran into a bit of trouble, but they never gave up the lead. The Orioles scored twice in the 7th off Justin Grimm, but Domingo Acevedo bailed him out before the damage got any worse. They scratched out another run in the 8th off Zach Jackson, but nothing more.
Still holding a two-run lead, Dany Jimenez breezed through a perfect 9th, striking out a pair and needing only 11 pitches overall. Whew!
It was a little bit of everything today. The hitters delivered, the pitchers held on, and the team put together a well-earned victory. Not only did they win today, but they took three out of four from the Orioles in the first home series of the year at the Coliseum. With expectations low entering yet another rebuilding season, their 8-6 record is a pleasant surprise indeed.
"I think we're going to surprise a lot of people with how good we are."— A's on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) April 21, 2022
Sean Murphy has a lot of confidence in this A's team pic.twitter.com/rR0XT3CG9h