Written by Bruce Smith (VaTech1994)
The Orioles returned home from a 10 game road trip to open a 3 game series against the hot Oakland Athletics. The Orioles stayed out partying all night in Texas on Thursday and didn’t get in bed until after 4 AM so a lackadaisical effort wouldn’t have been surprising. Instead, the Orioles played an intense, focused game against the team with the best record in the American League. In the end, the Athletics pulled out a tense 4-3 win in 11 innings. It felt like a play-off game as the intensity was palpable all night long.
Wei Yin Chen was on the bump tonight. He brought good stuff to the mound and got the very shorthanded Orioles’ pitching staff into the 7th inning. In the first inning, Josh Donaldson continued his torrid hitting when he smoked a high outside fastball the other way over the right-center field fence. Derek Norris got a center cut fastball on a 3-2 pitch leading off the second inning and deposited it into the left field seats. Chen gave up only three singles over the remainder of his outing. Chen continued to use his slider and changeup to get outs which makes his fastball play up.
Chen’s final line was 6.1 IP, 5 hits, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, but he didn’t get a decision when the Athletics tied it in the eighth inning. Buck Showalter continues to pull Chen quickly when his pitch count gets near 100 which is smart based on what we’ve seen from Wei Yin over two seasons when he starts to fatigue, but he isn’t pitch efficient so the pen is going to have to cover multiple innings even when Chen pitches well. Over time, that won’t help the bullpen.
Ryan Webb came in with a runner on and one out in the 7th. He gave up a hit, but got the Orioles out of the 7th with the lead intact. He continues to do a nice job.
Darrin O’Day pitched the 8th inning. O’Day has pitched extremely well this season, but he wasn’t happy with tonight’s outing. He walked Coco Crisp on 4 pitches to start the eighth and he paid for it when Yoenis Cespedes hooked a high slider a couple inches inside the left field line for a two out hit that drove in the tying run.
Zach Britton came on to pitch the 9th and, after a quick inning, stayed in for the 10th. Britton struggled a bit in the 10th inning, but came away unscathed when he struck out Cespedes with runners on 1st and 3rd.
Evan Meek came back from the minor leagues and found himself in a tie game in the 11th inning.
The Athletics can pitch and the Orioles can hit so this looked to be an exciting matchup. It didn’t disappoint. The Orioles strung together three hits in the bottom of the 2nd inning to get on the board. Jonathan Schoop got the RBI when he took a tough changeup to right center field.
Chris Davis hit his 9th home run. It was a line shot into the left field stands off the lefty. Davis let the ball get deep and kept his front side on the pitch. This is usually a good sign that Davis is about to get hot.
Manny Machado hit a long home run into the Orioles’ bullpen.
The Orioles hit the ball well all night long as they amassed 13 more hits. The hitters are on their game these days which should bode well over the long haul.
Nick Markakis made a huge running catch in the 10th inning with Crisp on 2nd base to keep the tie intact. I thought he had no chance when the ball was hit. It was a really fine running play for a guy who gets labeled as slow by most of us.
Chris Davis made a nice 360 degree snap throw to 2nd base on a slow roller to his right and Manny Machado made a nice 360 degree spin and unleashed an absolute rocket throw to nail the runner by a step in the middle innings.
In the 11th inning, JJ Hardy made a really uncharacteristic error when he looked toward a runner going to third before he had caught a routine grounder. It glanced off his glove and gave the Athletics an extra out just before the go ahead run was driven in.
Key Moments In The Game
The Orioles got two hits and a walk in the bottom of the 10th but didn’t score when Nick Markakis was thrown out at the plate on Adam Jones’ hit to right. Brandon Moss charged the ball and made an excellent throw to just barely nail Nick. It was a good send by Dickerson and you just had to tip your cap to the Athletics’ right fielder. Nelson Cruz then attempted to steal home with runners on 1st and 3rd and Chris Davis up. It wasn’t a good play because you can’t try that unless you know you’ll make it and Cruz was out by a couple feet. You have to let Chris Davis take a shot.
I’m tired just from watching this game after the long road trip. I can only imagine how the players must feel.
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