OAKLAND, Calif. - The Orioles have had some tough losses this year. The one last night ranks pretty high on the brutal scale. Playing a bad team and six outs from victory, the Orioles instead suffered a 5-4 loss to the Athletics.
Six outs from getting back to .500 and moving over .500 on this road trip, the Orioles instead find themselves this morning at 57-59 for the season and 2-3 on this 10-game West Coast trip.
It unraveled quickly for reliever Brad Brach in the last of the eighth. Working with a 4-3 lead, he gave up a double, single and RBI double for the 4-4 tie. A sac fly would give the A’s the 5-4 lead.
Brach said allowing a leadoff double to Matt Joyce on a 1-0 pitch, a 95 mph fastball, set a tone for his inning. A bad one.
“Yeah, definitely. You’ve got to get the first out,” Brach said. “That’s always the key, first-pitch strikes and first batter of the inning for me is always the key for me. Leading off the inning, kind of got off to a bad start there. Unfortunately, the next couple of guys, couldn’t make the pitch that I needed to. They made me pay for it.”
The night got off to a pretty great start for O’s starter Ubaldo Jiménez. Early on in this game, it looked a little like the start he had on June 29 at Toronto, when Jiménez pitched eight scoreless on two hits.
He had swing-and-miss stuff. After he got the first batter of the game to fly out, his next eight outs came via strikeouts. He fanned eight through three innings, had 10 after four and finished with 11 strikeouts over 5 1/3 innings. That was his most strikeouts ever as an Oriole and his most since he matched his career high of 13 for the second time on Sept. 29, 2013 for Cleveland at Minnesota.
What made him such a strikeout pitcher last night at Oakland Coliseum?
“He starts that fastball to left-handers - you see four or five left-handed hitters - he starts the ball at them, which means they’ve got to honor it and cheat to it,” manager Buck Showalter said. “That means the split recognition ... He’s getting a lot more counts in his favor, and he’s finishing off an at-bat instead of getting back to 3-2 a lot. One of the reasons why his pitch count was so high was because he had so many strikeouts.”
But on a night that Jiménez had so many strikeouts, he also had a stretch that cost him. This one was in the fourth where in a span of four batters he allowed two doubles and a two-run homer to Matt Olson to turn a 2-0 Orioles lead into a 3-2 deficit.
Jiménez was pulled from the game after being hit on the right leg by a hot-smash grounder off the bat of Chad Pinder that went for an infield hit. Jiménez said he was pretty certain he was going to be fine.
But he was asked how the clubhouse was holding up after the latest tough loss.
“Well, it’s part of the game,” Jiménez said as the Orioles record in one-run games falls to 13-13. “Of course, it’s going to hurt. It’s never easy to lose a game like that, but we have to move on. We have to get ready for tomorrow. That is the only way we are going to get better and where we want to get.”
Had the Orioles held the late lead, then Jonathan Schoop’s double in the fifth inning would been a game-winning hit. He blasted a two-run double to center field as part of a 2-for-4 night. Schoop began Friday night with 82 RBIs, which was tied with his total of 82 last year as his career high. His new career high is now 84 RBIs.
“Jon’s been solid,” Showalter said. “It’s been so much fun to watch a guy like him get better every year and not get caught up in the disease of me. He’s a pleasure to watch and to have on your club. You don’t have many guys like him, on and off the field, pass your way.”
Schoop had gone four games without an RBI. He ranks second in the American League with his total of 84, trailing Seattle’s Nelson Cruz who has 92. Schoop’s 30 RBIs in the second half ranks first in the AL. Schoop is batting .316/.355/.561 with an OPS of .916 since the All-Star break.
Adam Jones hit a solo homer in the second inning Friday night and has homered twice in two games in this series. Over his past 24 games, Jones is batting .308 with seven homers and 18 RBIs. The homer produced Jones’ 800th career RBI.
Tim Beckham had two singles in four at-bats. He is batting .500 (22-for-44) in 11 games as an Oriole and has eight multi-hit games with Baltimore.
Beckham has an 11-game hitting streak to begin his Orioles career. He tied Eric Byrnes from 2005 for third-longest hitting streak to begin his O’s career. The only two longer streaks are a 13-game run by Javy Lopez in 2004 and a 15-game streak by David Newhan in 2004.