The Orioles have received lots of attention and criticism for their failures with runners in scoring position this season.
None of the fingers can be pointed at second baseman Brian Roberts.
Roberts’ grand slam in the fourth inning tonight gave the Orioles a 6-3 lead. Bud Norris allowed two runs in the top of the fifth and was removed with the bases loaded and two outs.
Troy Patton let two inherited runners score. More on that later.
Roberts is 13-for-29 with 22 RBIs with runners in scoring position this season. He’s 3-for-4 with seven RBIs with the bases loaded.
As for Norris, tonight marked his second-shortest start of the year. He lasted only two-thirds of an inning for Houston on April 17 at Oakland, allowing six runs and five hits, with three walks.
Norris has allowed 18 earned runs in 17 1/3 innings in four career starts against Oakland.
The last two runs tonight scored on Eric Sogard’s two-out single off Patton, who’s let 11 of 30 inherited runners score this season.
Norris was charged with seven runs - tying his season high - and nine hits in 4 2/3 innings, with three walks, seven strikeouts and two home runs. He threw 109 pitches, 70 for strikes.
The A’s sent 10 batters to the plate in the fifth. A single, RBI double and RBI single reduced the Orioles’ lead to 6-5 with no outs. Brandon Moss lined into a double play, but Yoenis Cespedes walked, Seth Smith singled and Alberto Callaspo walked to load the bases and bring manager Buck Showalter out of the dugout.
Patton couldn’t stop the bleeding, and the Orioles couldn’t hold their lead.
Update: The Orioles pounced on A’s reliever Ryan Cook in bottom of the seventh, scoring three times to take a 9-7 lead.
Nate McLouth fueled the rally with a leadoff walk and his 29th stolen base in 34 attempts. Manny Machado singled, and McLouth scored on Sogard’s error at second base.
Machado raced home on Adam Jones’ slow roller to third base, giving the Orioles the lead, and Nick Markakis followed Matt Wieters’ infield hit with an RBI single.
Yes, Wieters reached on an infield hit - a slow roller to the left side.
Tommy Hunter is working the eighth inning. I guess he isn’t closing tonight.
Update II: Game over. The Orioles win 9-7.
Jim Johnson retired the side in order, with a strikeout and two ground balls, to record his 40th save and his first since Aug. 6. Manny Machado made a diving stop and throw to retire Yoenis Cespedes for the second out.
Johnson is the first Orioles reliever with multiple 40-save seasons.