The Orioles were able to secure an early series win this afternoon after defeating the Athletics handily.
The Orioles could not have won this afternoon without the ample assistance they received from the A’s. To their credit, the Birds were able to take advantage of the numerous Athletics’ miscues and hang on in the latter half of the game for an 8-4 victory.
Matt Harvey was solid on the mound once again for the Orioles, ending his day one out shy of a quality start. He wasn’t striking guys out in this particular game and actually finished with more walks than K’s. But he gutted it out and found a way to make it work. The right-hander got pulled with two outs in the sixth and 90 pitches thrown.
Things did get off to a slow start for the Dark Knight though. The Athletics made Harvey work in the bottom of the first, wasting a ton of pitches and working deep into counts.
It started with the Athletics’ leadoff man, Mark Canha, who hit a slow roller to third base. Maikel Franco made a fine barehanded scoop, but the ensuing throw pulled Trey Mancini off the bag. Two batters later, Canha stole second base, and then Ramon Laureano walked. The inning ended on a line drive up the middle that Harvey stopped with his body. He was able to recover in time to throw out Matt Chapman at first, and he didn’t show any obvious ill effects from the blow as the game went on.
Harvey turned around and retired the A’s in order in the second. He spent the afternoon getting the A’s to scatter fly balls around the spacious confines of their home ballpark, and it was effective. On the day, Harvey induced five ground balls versus 11 fly balls.
The third inning proved to be game-changing. When the O’s came to bat, the score was 0-0. By the time the inning was over, it was 6-0, Orioles.
Baltimore took advantage of a series of miscues by the A’s and it started with DJ Stewart reaching base on a fielding error by Seth Brown. Ramon Urias followed with a single to right, putting runners on first and third for Cedric Mullins. The Orioles’ best hitter of 2021 (so far) worked the count full and then laid off a pitch way down to load the bases.
Austin Hays came to the plate with a golden opportunity to drive in some runs, and he did not disappoint. This is the same guy who hit two dingers off A’s starting pitcher Jesus Luzardo this past Sunday. The O’s left fielder hit a hard grounder through the left side of the infield to score two runs. When the dust settled, Hays ended up at third after the A’s cutoff man threw the ball over third base, allowing Mullins to score as well.
The next batter, Mancini, followed with a bloop to shallow center that glanced off shortstop Elvis Andrus’ glove, allowing Hays to cross home plate.
And the damage didn’t end there. Franco got a base hit to left and then a wild pitch by Luzardo moved the runners up to second and third. Mountcastle lifted a sacrifice fly to right field, on which Canha made a spectacular catch running back towards the outfield wall. Then Luzardo unleashed his second wild pitch of the inning and Franco scored to give the Birds their final run of the inning.
After 64 pitches in three innings, including 35 in the third, Luzardo gave way to reliever Deolis Guerra in the fourth.
The middle innings were uneventful for both teams. That is, until DJ Stewart came up to the plate with one out and a runner on base. He pulled a two-run homer over the fence in right to end his recent 0-for-18 skid at the plate.
The A’s started chipping away at their deficit in the later innings, but by then it was too late. With two outs in the sixth, Seth Brown doubled home Matt Chapman for the A’s first run, prompting O’s manager Brandon Hyde to pull Harvey from the game.
Reliever Cole Sulser was called in and he let his inherited runner score. That left Harvey’s final pitching line for the afternoon at four hits, two earned runs, three walks, and one strikeout over 5.2 innings.
Sulser stayed on for the seventh inning but he didn’t finish it. After a leadoff home run to Mark Canha, Sulser walked Jed Lowrie, and then struck out Ramon Laureano. Tanner Scott came on for the final two outs of the inning, which he was able to secure without walking any batters. Although he did walk one in the eighth.
The only other blemish on the scorecard was an Athletics solo home run off the bat of Laureano in the 9th. It was surrendered by Dillon Tate, who recovered by getting the very next hitter, Mitch Moreland, to fly out to end the game.
With this win, the Orioles assured themselves of a series win against the A’s, even though the finale won’t be played until tomorrow. The O’s have now won three games in a row, and this West Coast trip has proved enjoyable so far because of it.