On an afternoon when the unexpected manifested itself often, perhaps the biggest surprise of all was made more so by the fact that it’s happened so infrequently this season: the Orioles bullpen yielded.
One of the game’s best relief corps relied on three of its best arms in a back-and-forth game Sunday at Oakland’s RingCentral Coliseum, yet the Orioles still came away with a 7-5 loss to the Athletics that denied them a three-game sweep in gut-wrenching fashion.
With a tie game in the eighth inning and a runner on second base, Oakland center fielder Ramón Laureano leapt at the wall to catch a drive from DJ Stewart to end the inning. In the home half of that inning, the Orioles (13-15) called on Travis Lakins Sr., who had allowed two hits and no runs in eight innings this season.
Lakins allowed two hits Sunday — a one-out single and a towering home run by Laureano that eventually proved the difference in a topsy-turvy matinee.
Oakland struck first by scoring twice in a first inning that featured the Orioles making two throwing errors on the same play, but Freddy Galvis scored Pedro Severino with a single in the second inning and Austin Hays tied the game at 2 in the third with his fourth home run of the season — all coming against Oakland in the past eight games.
A two-run home run by Matt Olson in the third inning gave Oakland a 4-2 lead, but was erased when Mancini singled to score two with two outs in the fifth. Another two-out single by Mancini gave the Orioles a brief 5-4 advantage in the seventh before they lost the lead immediately and somewhat bizarrely.
Jed Lowrie hit an infield single to second base that scored Matt Chapman from second base after Mancini couldn’t collect the ball from his glove to make the throw home. That was the first run allowed in 11 appearances for Paul Fry, who entered the game with a 0.90 ERA.
Still, even after Laureano’s eighth-inning heroics, the Orioles had two reach on a pinch-hit double by Rio Ruiz and a rare walk by Hays. Closer Lou Trivino retired Mancini on a diving catch by left fielder Matt Canha and Maikel Franco on a ground out to first to strand them there.
Fastballs foil Zimmermann again
The errors didn’t help Orioles left-hander Bruce Zimmermann’s cause Sunday, but neither did his fastball location. At .450, he entered the start with the highest batting average allowed off his four-seam fastball among pitchers who have thrown at least 100, and Oakland hit well when he was around the zone with it Sunday.
Of the seven balls put in play on his fastball, Oakland had four singles and Olson’s two-run home run.
Zimmermann battled, though, and left with two outs in the fifth inning with two runners on. Adam Plutko stranded them, meaning Zimmermann allowed four runs (three earned) on seven hits with a pair of walks, two hit batters and four strikeouts. His ERA sits at 5.40 after six starts, and he hasn’t finished five innings in each of the past three.
Monday, 10:10 p.m.
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