Orioles manager Brandon Hyde watched César Valdez wiggle out of a jam last night to preserve the slimmest of leads, tossed a few compliments at his closer and pointed out how it would be easier on everyone if his club didn’t skimp on the runs.
“It would be nice,” Hyde said, “to score a couple more to give a little breathing room in the ninth for all of our pitchers.”
Matt Harvey stepped out of the dugout for the bottom of the third today with a six-run lead. A direct path to the mound after a crooked number.
Taking advantage of every Oakland mistake, and they were plentiful, the Orioles produced their most explosive inning since April 4 and bolted to an 8-4 victory over the Athletics that assured a series win.
Austin Hays grounded a two-run single into left field in the third after the Orioles loaded the bases with no outs. The A’s committed two errors, shortstop Elvis Andrus couldn’t make a basket catch while retreating to center field, pitcher Jesús Luzardo threw two wild pitches and the Orioles sent nine batters to the plate while improving to 13-14 overall and 9-4 on the road.
The three-game winning streak is the longest since the Orioles swept the Red Sox in the opening series. The six-run inning was the largest since they scored seven in the third inning on April 4 in Boston.
The Orioles haven’t been one game below .500 since April 20, when they were 8-9.
“For me it’s 28 games in 162,” Hyde said. “I just want to see us continue to get better, try to win every series we can. I like the way we’re being competitive against good clubs and playing well. I just want us to play well and things will take care of itself if we do.”
DJ Stewart interrupted an 0-for-21 slump with a two-run homer off reliever J.B. Wendelken in the sixth for an 8-0 lead.
Ten different Orioles accounted for the 10 hits.
First baseman Seth Brown booted Stewart’s bouncer to start the third and the A’s fell apart. Ramón Urías singled, Cedric Mullins walked and Hays singled for a 2-0 lead. Mullins raced home on Matt Chapman’s wild throw to the plate and Hays scored on Trey Mancini’s shallow fly ball that clanked off Andrus’ glove.
Maikel Franco singled and both runners advanced on a wild pitch. Right fielder Mark Canha robbed Ryan Mountcastle with one out on a leaping catch while sprinting to the fence, the sacrifice fly scoring Mancini, and Franco came home on another wild pitch.
Three of the six runs were unearned and Luzardo didn’t return for the fourth. His defense bailed before him.
“I thought we had really good at-bats that inning,” Hyde said. “Capitalized on a couple of their mistakes. Was nice to see the line moving and see a really nice rally put together. Ran the bases fairly well, good at-bats. Tough starter we faced in Luzardo, and we got to him. Really happy how we got him up in the zone. So it was nice to score a bunch early.”
Making his 150th career start, Harvey came within an out of completing six innings in back-to-back games. Brown doubled on Harvey’s 90th pitch to score Chapman and Tony Kemp singled off Cole Sulser to reduce the lead to 8-2.
Canha homered off Sulser leading off the seventh and Ramón Laureano homered off Dillon Tate with two outs in the ninth.
Harvey was charged with two runs and four hits in 5 2/3 innings, with three walks and one strikeout. His ERA is 4.06.
His patience should be worn thin from plate umpire Greg Gibson’s strike zone.
Harvey has allowed three runs and seven hits in his last two starts over 11 2/3 innings.
Canha led off the first by reaching on an infield single, with Franco’s throw pulling Mancini off the bag, and Oakland didn’t get another hit until Aramis Garcia singled with one out in the fifth. Harvey’s only strikeout ended the inning.
Harvey threw 24 pitches in the first inning and 10 were reserved for Chapman, who lined back to the mound to strand two runners. Harvey knocked down the ball like a goalie - it hit his right thumb - and threw to first base.
The A’s were retired in order in the second on 11 pitches.
“On his pitching thumb, takes a line drive off, wants to stay in the game and goes four-plus innings after that,” Hyde said. “So that was a veteran performance, another gutsy pitching performance by him. He’s just so competitive and I love the way our guys feed off that.”
“I could definitely feel it,” Harvey said. “I think there in the sixth inning when you get a lead like that, adrenaline starts coming off a little bit and you can start feeling things a little more. Definitely had some trouble in the sixth, but I think through that I was able to battle through it. Wasn’t hit super hard, so luckily it kind of got off the end of Chappy’s bat, and was able to grind out a couple more innings after that.”
Mountcastle lined a single into right field in the second inning and Freddy Galvis, back in the lineup, grounded into a double play. Mountcastle had hits in three straight at-bats and seven in his last six games.
Galvis played five innings at shortstop before Urías moved over from second base. Stewart stayed in the game after running into the padded corner of the Orioles’ bullpen awning to catch a fly ball in the eighth, absorbing the impact with the right side of his face, rubbing his jaw and motioning to the dugout that he didn’t need assistance.
“It was more so jaw/ear area,” Stewart said. “I’m fine. I’ll probably be a little sore.
“I actually just found out they put padding on that railing this year, so thankful for that. If not I’d probably be going to see a dentist.”