OAKLAND - When you lose close games there are often plays you needed to make and didn’t, timely hits that didn’t come or mistakes made that stand out.
The Orioles had a few missteps in the opener of a seven-game road trip that they lost 3-2 at Oakland. An ill-advised double-steal attempt ended the top of the first. A throwing error led to two unearned runs in the last of the third. And then there was the offense, or lack of it. The Orioles were held to three singles - just one after the second inning - and they had just one at-bat all night with a runner in scoring position. Chris Davis upset already frustrated fans when he took another called third strike in the seventh, this time with two on and two outs.
The Orioles allowed three runs and five hits and lost a series opener at Oakland to fall to 21-51 with six consecutive losses.
In the top of the first, Trey Mancini singled with two outs and Chance Sisco walked against A’s righty Mike Fiers. They tried a double steal and Sisco was cut down 2-4 on the back end of it. Inning over.
“That was just a couple of guys trying to make something happen that was not there,” manager Brandon Hyde said during his postgame interview on MASN. “We talked about it at the end of inning. Obviously, I want (Pedro) Severino to swing the bat there, and he’s got a hitter’s count. That is not really the tandem that we’re looking to steal a couple of bases. But, we’ll learn from it.”
Added Sisco: “No miscommunication. Just trying to make something happen in that situation. Saw Trey hopping off and thought I could follow right behind him. Saw Trey getting a big lead out there and tried to follow him as well.”
Sisco was also involved in a defensive play that led to two unearned Oakland runs. The A’s had bases loaded and no outs, down 2-1 in the third. Matt Olson bounced to third and Rio Ruiz threw home. Sisco stepped on the plate for a force out and tried to quickly get off a throw to first base to complete a 5-2-3 double play. The ball came up short of the bag and two runs scored. The second runner was called out at home initially, but the out was overturned via replay.
“Caught the ball and tagged home,” Sisco said. “Looked up down the line and he was pretty close to first already, so I kind of rushed the throw. Just got to make a better throw in that situation.”
But the Orioles had time to overcome both the ill-fated double-steal attempt and Sisco’s poor throw. They just didn’t get much going against Fiers, who has been really good since throwing his second career no-hitter against the Reds May 7. Last night he allowed two unearned runs over 6 2/3 as the Orioles went 3-for-28 for the game.
All this overshadowed the seventh quality start for right-hander Andrew Cashner, who went six innings and gave up four hits and three runs (one earned) on 97 pitches. He is 6-3 with an ERA of 4.48.
“Fastball was in the mid 90s again,” Hyde said after Cashner provided the Orioles their 18th quality start and ended a six-game run without one. “He’s got good secondary stuff, and I just love his aggressiveness. He’s fun to watch because he’s so competitive.”
Cashner was pitching on eight days’ rest due to a blister on his right middle finger. It’s a problem that is not completely resolved. Will Cashner need extra rest again before his next turn?
“I think that’s all going to depend on what it looks like tomorrow,” said Hyde. “You have no idea at this point. We’ll see how he is tomorrow and the next day with the finger.”
Cashner has allowed two earned runs over 12 innings his past two starts and has given up two earned runs or fewer seven times in 14 starts.
In the quiet postgame O’s clubhouse, Cashner was not about to throw anyone under the bus for making a mistake that might have added another loss to his record.
“That’s baseball,” he said. “I got a couple of big outs. You know, (Hanser) Alberto making a play up the middle, getting a guy out at third. I think anytime you lose it’s tough and those things kind of maybe shine a little bit more. But you know if we’re able to win this game, that stuff gets swept under the rug.”
Cashner said that, as one of the few veterans in the clubhouse, he is trying to do things to help the young players, especially the young pitchers, to do some learning and growing during a tough season for the team. Last night, for instance, he saw Jimmy Yacabonis throw two scoreless in relief with three strikeouts. Yacabonis got six swings and misses on 32 pitches, topping at 95 mph with his fastball.
“Yeah, I think the biggest thing is continuing to challenge them,” Cashner said. “You know, challenge them whether it’s thinking throughout the game. Whether it’s challenge them to make pitches when you need to. But I think it’s important to, when you are not pitching, to think through the game as far as what you would throw in certain spots in the game. It’s fun when guys, you see it out in the game when they are doing it. I had a lot of help when I was a rookie, and there are not a lot of guys in here for these guys to lean on, so it can be a lot some days. There are definitely going to be some growing pains, but I thought with Yac coming in the way he did tonight, that was huge for him.”
On day one of the west coast trip, the pitching was solid but other aspects were not. A losing streak that followed the Orioles across country is still intact heading into the second game of the road trip tonight.