If it’s not meant to be, it’s not meant to be – right? That’s the way fans should look at last night’s 5-4 loss in Oakland for the Baltimore Orioles. Before this gets any further, all of the people out there saying things such as Josh Donaldson 1, Manny Machado 0 are probably taking this a bit too far. Granted Josh Donaldson hit a walk off homer to beat the Orioles, but let’s not kid ourselves into thinking that this was all about Donaldson getting revenge against Machado or anything along those lines. Given his play in the field last night and his stats at the plate (2-for-4 with a two-run homer), you’d be hard-pressed to argue that Machado was the goat in this game.
The Baltimore Orioles got about all they could have wanted out of starter Chris Tillman last night. Tillman’s line: 6.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 6 K. I was a bit concerned when Tillman was resorting to his breaking pitches (and throwing them outside at that) a bit too often early in the game, however the fact is that he recorded outs. Often times if pitchers feel they don’t have their really good stuff they’ll do that, however as the game progressed Tillman showed he had command of his fastball. As long as you’re recording outs, coaches and media can only be so critical.
Oakland took a 1-0 lead in the last of the third on a Jaso RBI-double which scored Coco Crisp. That play came in the wake of Crisp singling and then advancing to second base on Tillman’s wild pitch. However Tillman hunkered down and pitched out of that mini-jam, stranding Jaso on base after a Yoenis Cespedes ground out.
However the Orioles weren’t done at that point – in fact they hadn’t even gotten it going. Jonathan Schoop came up with a runner on third base and two outs in the fifth, and promptly sent one deep into the Oakland night and into the stands. Suddenly the Orioles had a 2-1 lead over Oakland and their newly-acquired starter Jeff Samardzija. Incidentally, Samardzija pitched fairly well also. He didn’t have the lead when he left the game, however the early returns on that Billy Beane trade seem to bode well for Oakland.
Derek Norris brought Oakland right back in the last of the inning with a solo homer off of
Tillman, and suddenly we had a tie game once again. However the key inning for the Birds was the seventh. J.J. Hardy sent a one out single to center field, and Manny Machado sent the first pitch he saw into the left field stands to put the O’s back on top 4-2. Machado was royally boo’d all night by the Oakland fans (the result of course of the incident last month), but he silenced them in a sense with that homer.
And the expectation was that the Orioles would go on to win the game 4-2. Tommy Hunter came on to record the final out of the seventh, and he pitched a scoreless eighth inning…sending it to Zach Britton in the last of the ninth. Cespedes hit an infield single on a swinging bunt to third to lead off the inning, which was followed by Moss’ dying quail single to very shallow right field (on a broken bat). So with two runners on and nobody out Donaldson hit his aforementioned walk off home run to end the game, sending the Orioles home losers.
If you’re Zach Britton, the only thing you might do differently there is not throw your sinker quite as often. Donaldson was sitting on that pitch and he got exactly what he was looking for.
(It might have behooved Britton and Caleb Joseph to change the signs up with a runner on second as well.) However Britton ran into the perfect storm in a sense. Had Manny Machado been playing straight away at third base, he probably would have thrown Cespedes out. However he was justifiably guarding the line against an extra-base hit – in and doing so respecting Cespedes’ power. And there’s nothing that you can do about a broken bat single – not a thing.
The point here is that these kinds of results happen. The O’s have been on the right end of their share of walk offs this year, and obviously this was one that went the other way. Three different Orioles were hit in last night’s game: Joseph, Hardy, and Adam Jones. Hardy was hit on the bottom of his neck, and Jones was hit in the shoulder/neck area as well. Yesterday I wrote about how the O’s needed to avoid getting caught up in something along those lines in the wake of what happened last month. For all intents and purposes, they did that. They let their play talk do the talking on the field. I’m not in the business of judging intent, however needless to say the Orioles weren’t really happy with that aspect of the game last night.
The O’s are now 52-43, but remain four games ahead of New York and Toronto in the AL East standings. Wei-Yin Chen will go to the mound for the Birds tonight, and he’ll face former Oriole Jason Hammel (who was a part of the trade which brought Samardzija to Oakland). Game time is 9 PM eastern time this evening and you can find Orioles vs. Athletics tickets from Scorebig.