On a warm and muggy night in one of the most hitter friendly parks in baseball, against a pitcher who allows one fly ball in six to leave the yard, I was quite hopeful we might see an offensive explosion from our A’s. And explode they did. In fact, I think the score indicates a game that looks closer than it actually felt (at least until the eighth inning or so). And the A’s left 10 men on base too; there could have been many more runs.
Fresh off eating some barbeque with his nickname-sake, Boog Powell lined a single off Gallardo to open the game. Three pitches later, Jed Lowrie hit a mammoth home run that marked his second in as many days.
Three batters later, Ryon Healy did the same. The A’s were leading 3-0 before the Orioles even touched a bat.
Once the Baltimore hitters did get bats in their hands, they weren’t able to get to Paul Blackburn. It wasn’t a dominating performance in the Noah Syndergaard sense but it was equally effective. Blackburn didn’t strike anyone out in his four-plus innings of work, but only allowed three hits, zero walks, and definitely kept the infielders in the game.
10 ground ball outs for Blackburn thru 4 innings— Vince Cotroneo (@vincebaseball) August 23, 2017
Unfortunately, the fifth inning wasn’t kind to Blackburn. Trey Mancini was one of the few O’s to barrel a ball against the A’s right-hander, and Mancini hit a missile that struck Blackburn in the right wrist.
Video of Paul Blackburn getting hit with a comebacker on his right wrist. He was taken back to the clubhouse after pic.twitter.com/ttfYlbgYSX— A's on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) August 23, 2017
Blackburn would leave the game. The preliminary results were encouraging - it’s just a bruise and not a more serious injury - but it shook me up watching it and hopefully “Blackie”, as he’d be known this weekend, bounces back quickly.
But the beat must go on and so the game continued. The A’s continued to mash.
I must say I was surprised to learn it was Ryon’s fourth multi-homer game of the season.
Back on the other side of the ball, Simon Castro came in to relieve Blackburn and spun a tale of the twos. Two innings pitched, two hits allowed, two earned runs, and two strikeouts. Both of the runs came courtesy of a Manny Machado blast. Castro isn’t the first to give up a long ball to Machado and he certainly won’t be the last, but man was it a blast.
After Machado’s dinger, the game continued 5-2 for some time. It should have been more comfortable, and the A’s could use their half of the eighth to teach a “how to run yourself out of an inning” course.
After Chad Pinder singled to open the eighth, Matt Chapman doubled and the A’s were at second and third with nobody out. Bruce Maxwell came to the plate and stung a groundball to Jonathan Schoop at second. Pinder must have been going on contact, and may have been caught in no man’s land had he tried to hold, but was picked off easily at the plate.
Then the inning got kind of strange. Boog came to bat and perhaps kind of sneakily tried to lay down a safety squeeze, which had at least something of a ‘surprise’ element the first time he did it. But then he tried it two more times, finally getting the bunt down on the third attempt. Suffice it to say the third time was not the charm.
Chapman made a valiant effort to prolong the rundown and allowed runners to get to second and third again, but in the span of two hitters, the A’s went from having Chapman and Pinder on second and third and nobody out to having Powell and Maxwell at second and third with two outs and nothing to show for it.
For me, if you don’t trust Boog to swing it against a lefty in that spot, well that’s why Rajai is still on this team. Alas, nothing was to come of the inning, and it nearly proved costly.
Leadoff walks rarely work out well and the O’s half of the eighth was no exception. Daniel Coulombe gave Chris Davis a free pass to open the frame. Chris Hatcher then came in to replace Coulombe, and though he got the next two hitters, the following two reached base and the O’s had the bases loaded with two outs.
Melvin then made another pitching change; Treinen replaced Hatcher, but Schoop singled to Khris Davis and two runs scored. Suddenly the game was 5-4 and suddenly it felt pretty nervy.
But Khris Davis quickly came to the rescue.
This blast was Khrush’s 34th of the season and provided a little insurance. It was all Treinen would need. After working a six-out save in Houston on Sunday, Blake worked around a leadoff error by Chad Pinder to slam the door on the O’s rally. Treinen got a little help from Chapman, who started a great double play, and it wasn’t the first time Chapman helped his pitcher on Tuesday.
All’s well that ends well and tonight ended in a win. Daniel Gossett comes up tomorrow to start the finale. Have a wonderful rest of your night everyone.