June 7, 2014

Game 59: Who Says You Can't Steal Home?

Made the venture to Charm City this weekend to watch the boys in action for the first time since September 2012.  First off, the park looks phenomenal with new renovations and restaurants. Went to Dempsey's, had some killer fish tacos and made my way to my seats in left field. Didn't do a preview for the A's series but all I can say is that this team might be the most complete team in baseball. Although missing Josh Reddick, Oakland continues to dominant with a powerful offense, superb pitching and a shutdown bullpen. These factors were in full effect tonight as well.

Wei-Yin Chen got the start tonight as Miggy Gonzalez was placed on the DL. Chen's outing started out rough, allowing solo homers to Josh Donaldson and Derek Norris. Donaldson, by the way is arguably the best third baseman in baseball (sorry Manny). From that point on, Chen settled in and was in line for the win when he exited in the 7th. I'm not sure how Chen does it, his fastball just seems to jump out of his hand to deceive hitters. For the A's, Tommy Milone took the hill and the Orioles proceeded to hit him extremely well. However, the A's defense and poor hitting with runners on only allowed the Birds to push acrosd 3 runs.

An altercation took place between Machado and Donaldson that cleared both benches and bullpen. From point on it seemed to flip a switch for Manny. After starting off slow in his return to injury, he's started to hit the ball better, especially to all fields. Once the confrontation with Donaldson ended, you could tell that Manny's demeanor had changed completely.  His next at-bat, he crushed a solo homer into the Oakland bullpen.  You could notice the swagger coming from the 22-year old as he trotted around the bases. He would also make a diving stop, spinning amd throwing out a runner later in the game. Hopefully this gets Manny back on track and reverts himself to 2013 form.

Orioles continued success at the plate was a plus but their inability to cash in on scoring opportunity was a reason for tonight's loss. Besides Hundley and Cruz, each starter had a basehit. Hardy went 3-5 and Chris Davis hit his 9th homerun.

Now comes the part of the recap that ruined my night. The bullpen pitched great to keep the A's offense in check. Although O'Day allowed a tying run, Ryan Webb and Zach Britton tossed 3 scoreless innings to extend the game.  In the bottom of the 10th, Markakis led off the inning with a single back up the middle to put the winning run on.  After Machado sacrificed Nick to 2nd, Nelly Cruz worked a walk to set up a matchuo between Fernando Abad and Adam Jonss.  AJ, who owns lefties, seemed as though former Oriole great Jim Johnson would be the pitcher to relieve Abad. However, Bob Melvin left him in and to his surprise (not mine), Jones ripped a single to right field. Once the ball reachef the outfield the crowd roared as they tried to will Markakis around the bases to score the winning run. Alas, he was gunned down at home by Brandon Moss in a close play that was eventually confirmed by replay.  On the next at-bat, Davis was at the plate with runners in scoring position, Nelson Cruz made the decision to steal home since he wasn't being held on at third.  My initial reaction was shock because it looked like he wasn't even close. In reality he was a step or two away.  The park was quickly silenced as they moved to the 11th.

Evan Meek was summoned from the bullpen to our dismay, as he allowed a leadoff double to John Jaso and was quickly in scoring position.  With one out and Jaso at second, Alberto Callapso hit a routine grounder to Hardy and he bobble the ball to put runners on the corners instead of a man on third with two away.  Pinch hitter Stephen Vogt would then line a single past Machado to finally break the tie. Many say that the error was meaningful since he would've scored but actually, Machado would've played a step or two back had there been two outs.

Sean Doolittle would come on to close out the O's by striking out the side to preserve an Oakland win.  A demoralizing loss for Baltimore as they fell back to 30-29, as the Blue Jays and Yankees won again. Tonight they'll face one of the better pitchers in the league in Sonny Gray as Kevin Gausman makes a spot start in place of Miguel Gonzalez.

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