Lopez hadn’t allowed a run in three starts until turning over the lineup, but five of nine Oakland batters reached tonight and created an early deficit that the Orioles never made up in a 3-1 loss before an announced crowd of 7,574.
Ramón Laureano led off the fifth by homering into the visiting bullpen, the final batter for López, and the Orioles fell to 8-11 overall and 1-7 at home. They’re 14-27 at Camden Yards since the beginning of the 2020 season.
The Athletics have won 12 in a row after an 0-6 start.
Orioles pitchers hadn’t surrendered a home run in the last four games. Laureano’s 428-foot blast should count as two.
The bullpen logged five scoreless innings, but the offense left 10 runners on base.
López retired the first 11 batters with seven strikeouts in his previous start in Texas and completed the fifth inning. Laureano was the only batter tonight that he’d face a third time.
“I thought he came out throwing the ball great the first inning, looked like he did in Texas,” said manager Brandon Hyde via Zoom. “The second inning, I thought he lost his aggressiveness there. Couple walks, couple borderline pitches, too, that we didn’t get. In the third and fourth inning, he got back to being aggressive.
“He got hurt on his curveball tonight, his breaking ball. His fastball was really good. They were not hitting his fastball. ... The majority of the hits given up were on the curveball. I’d like to see him a little more aggressive with his fastball there. For three innings he was really aggressive and just had a bad second where a couple walks hurt him and a couple curveballs he gave up for hits.”
Singles by Trey Mancini, Maikel Franco and DJ Stewart loaded the bases against left-hander Cole Irvin with no outs in the sixth and the A’s leading 3-0. Ryan Mountcastle struck out, but Pedro Severino lined a single into left field to prevent a third shutout in four games.
Back-to-back walks and a wild pitch put López in deep trouble with no outs in the second inning. Mitch Moreland scored on Seth Brown’s ground ball and Sean Murphy scored on Stephen Piscotty’s soft single into left field.
“Giving them 90 feet as a starting pitcher,” López said, “you have to understand the situation of not giving 90 feet just free when that team has been really hot.”
No. 9 hitter Elvis Andrus also singled, but López was back in the dugout after a force play and fly ball. Galvis fielded Laureano’s bouncer and looked to the plate and first base before spinning and flipping the ball to Urías.
As if “Moneyball II” had a dance number.
Cedric Mullins led off the bottom of the first with a hustle double on a grounder into center field and earned applause from the Orioles dugout. He turned on the jets, causing Laureano to overrun the ball.
Mullins tagged on Austin Hays’ fly ball to the deep right field, but was stranded at third base. Franco walked in between strikeouts of Mancini and Stewart.
“We had opportunities,” Hyde said.
“Just didn’t get the big hit. We’ve got to move the ball with runners in scoring position. We’re punching out too often. ... We’re swinging at pitchers’ pitches a little bit too often in big spots and we’ve got to make better decisions at the plate.”
Mountcastle led off the second with a fly ball to the fence in left field, making him hitless in 21 straight at-bats going back to Game 1 of an April 15 doubleheader against the Mariners. This wasn’t the first near-miss during his streak, which ended with a line drive single into center field in the fourth.
Laureano overran that ball, too, putting two runners in scoring position for Severino, who struck out.
Franco’s infield single with one out in the inning was the first hit since Mullins’ leadoff double.
Mullins singled in the fifth, making him 10-for-24 against left-handers, but was stranded again.
“Up, down, away, we’re chasing too often,” Hyde said. “We’ve just got to make better decisions at the plate. A lot of our guys are pressing. There’s a lot of different reasons of why we’re not coming through in spots and punching out too often, but the bottom line is we’ve got to stop swinging at pitchers’ pitches and be on time for the pitches that are in the strike zone. We’re just in a little bit of a funk to start this year and hopefully we’ll snap out of it.”
“I was really impressed with our bullpen. I thought our guys threw great,” Hyde said.
“I’m really pleased with how our ‘pen is pitching and they are keeping us in almost every single game.”
Hyde said a decision on Saturday night’s starter will be made later tonight.