Written by Bruce Smith
The Orioles started the 2nd half of the season in Oakland with a heartbreaking loss by a score of 5-4. It was the first game of a 10 game west coast swing against Oakland, Anaheim, and Seattle. The Orioles were winning 4-2 entering the bottom of the ninth. Oakland started the inning with a swinging bunt and a broken bat single. Josh Donaldson came up with two runners on and deposited a 96 mph sinker over the left-center field fence for a three run homer and a walk off win. Chris Tillman pitched well over 6.2 innings and the hitters picked up two more home runs from Jonathan Schoop and Manny Machado. It was a terrible start to the 2nd half, but the Orioles are a tough minded team that should bounce back tomorrow. The Orioles are now 52-43 on the season in 1st place 4.0 games ahead of the Blue Jays and Yankees.
Chris Tillman led off the second half for the starters. He had good command of all of his pitches, but didn’t bring his good fastball to the mound. His changeup and curveball were big assets for him throughout the outing. I was especially happy to see Chris get multiple weak swings on the curveball. Tillman threw just a couple cutters/sliders, but he did get weak contact from Josh Donaldson on a cutter to end the sixth.
Tillman moved the fastball in-and-out well, but his lack of velocity cost him on both runs he gave up. John Jaso was able to get the bat head to a well located up-and-in fastball in a critical spot in the bottom of the third. Jaso’s double with two outs scored Coco Crisp to give the A’s the early lead 1-0. In the bottom of the fifth, Tillman threw a nothing 87 mph fastball to Derek Norris. It was well located on the inside corner, but Norris just hit a bullet over the left field wall. The pitch was thrown so slowly that Jim Palmer assumed it was a cutter/slider that didn’t move, but a rerun of the Caleb Joseph sign showed it to be a fastball.
Tillman’s final line was 6.2 IP, 4 hits, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 103 pitches, 65 strikes, and the no decision. It was an efficient performance from Mr. Tillman who has now given up 3 or fewer earned runs in 8 straight starts with 7 quality starts. He isn’t quite pitching as well as he did last year, but he will help the Orioles if he continues to throw like this for the remainder of the season.
Tommy Hunter came on in the 7th and struck out Derek Norris on a nasty slider. He pitched a clean 8th inning picking up another strike out. Suddenly, Hunter is getting great movement on his 2 seam fastball and it has made him almost unhittable. Tonight was his 11th consecutive outing without allowing an earned run. If he continues to pitch like this the rest of the year, it will provide a huge boost to the team.
Zach Britton came in to get the save. Cespedes led off with a swinging bunt that Machado just had to stick in his pocket. Brandon Moss shattered his bat in multiple pieces but was able to dunk the ball over Chris Davis’ head. Josh Donaldson caught a 96 mph sinker for a walk off three run homer. Britton got the loss giving up 3 runs while recording no outs.
Jonathan Schoop loves to hit the slider in the strike zone as he has demonstrated twice with long home runs against NYY pitcher Tanaka. Tonight, he made that clear again when he crushed a 3-2 slider for a two run homer to give the Orioles the lead in the fifth inning. Jeff Samardzija seemed pretty shocked that Schoop was able to hit the pitch that far.
Manny Machado is on fire. He hit a hard line drive to left field for an out in the 2nd inning, a hard ground ball single to right field on a low and away fastball in the 5th inning, and just crushed a low-and-in splitter for a two run homer in the 7th inning to put the Orioles ahead 4-2. The home run was just crushed and again Jeff Samardzija couldn’t believe how hard the ball was hit.
JJ Hardy had a nice night with two line drive singles and a scary hit-by-pitch off his helmet. JJ was fine and stayed in the game. He scored ahead of both home runs.
Manny Machado showed off his ridiculous arm on a deep throw to get Cespedes by a step to end the third with Jaso on 2nd base. Very few third baseman can play at the depth Machado was playing and still throw out Cespedes. If Machado was more shallow, the hard hit grounder would have likely resulted in the hit being a double down the line instead of an out.
Key Moments In The Game
The two run homers by Schoop and Machado were the biggest moments in the game until Donaldson hit his long three run homer to end it.
The Oakland fans booed Machado endlessly all night because of what happened in Baltimore earlier this year, but he handled it well. He played a great game in the field and hit the home run that provided the winning margin.
The A’s hit three Orioles tonight (Joseph, Hardy, and Jones), two of them in the head/shoulder area. I don’t think any of them were intentional, but you could tell that Buck and Adam were not happy when Jones was hit in the 8th inning.
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