It was all good feelings heading into Saturday’s game against the Baltimore Orioles. The A’s were still riding high off their walk-off homer from All Star third baseman Josh Donaldson a night earlier, and were host to a packed house of A’s fans ready to celebrate their team’s last World Series Championship.
An on-field reunion saw fan favorites Rickey Henderson, Dennis Eckersley, Dave Stewart, Dave Parker, Dave Henderson and Jose Canseco return to the Oakland Coliseum with many of their 1989 teammates as well as their manager, Tony LaRussa, one week prior to his induction in the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.
Current A’s coaches Mike Gallego and Curt Young received loud ovations from the packed Coliseum crowd as they were acknowledged for their contributions to the ’89 team. Those members of their teams currently employed as coaches or managers with other organizations, i.e. Walt Weiss, Mark McGwire and Rick Honeycutt, had pre-recorded messages played over the scoreboard for their teammates and the fans. A touching memorial to the late Bob Welch was played and his children greeted his teammates and members of the current team on the field.
Fans in attendance were given a commemorative t-shirt to commemorate the reunion and the achievements of that 1989 team. It was a great celebration that could only have been made better by a win in the game that would proceed it.
Unfortunately the Baltimore Orioles were not cooperative in the second portion of the evening.
Jason Hammel, pitching just his second game for the A’s and pitching against his former team, allowed a lead-off single to Nick Markakis and a walk to Steve Pearce before allowing Adam Jones to connect for a three-run homer. Nelson Cruz and Chris Davis followed with strikeouts, but then J.J. Hardy connected for a homer to push the score to 4-0.
In the top of the third inning the Orioles put another run on the scoreboard. Jones walked and Cruz singled to start off the inning, followed by a double by Davis to bring Jones into score and push the score to 5-0.
Five runs was enough for manager Bob Melvin from Hammel. After allowing Davis’ RBI double, Melvin turned to reliever Dan Otero out of the A’s bullpen. Hammel’s final pitching line on the night was five earned runs allowed on six hits and two walks, with two strikeouts in two innings. He was charged with the loss, pushing his record to a combined 8-7 between the Cubs and A’s this season.
Brandon Moss lead off the bottom half of the third inning with an absolute no-doubt of a home run to right field for his 22nd blast of the season, for the A’s first hit and first run of the night, cutting the score to 5-1.
The Orioles put two more runs on the board to make it a 7-1 game in the fourth inning. It was Adam Jones again, singling home Markakis and Pearce.
The two runs allowed by Otero in the fourth inning brought an end to the reliever’s night, with Melvin again turning to the bullpen to stop the bleeding. Otero finished his night having allowed two runs on three hits and one walk, while striking out none in his two innings of work.
Jed Lowrie got both runs back for the A’s, doubling home Yoenis Cespedes and Craig Gentry in the bottom half of the fourth inning to cut the deficit to 7-3 and it began to look like the A’s could fight all the way back as they have become accustomed to doing, earning them a “never quit” reputation among their fans over the past three seasons.
Lowrie struck again in the sixth inning with an RBI single to bring home Josh Donaldson and push the score to 7-4.
After four scoreless frames from the combined efforts of Fernando Abad, Ryan Cook and Luke Gregerson, Jim Johnson entered the game in the ninth inning and promptly allowed a home run to his former teammate Chris Davis. Make it 8-4 Orioles.
The A’s had their chances to score in the ninth, but with Brandon Moss and Stephen Vogt on base, Nick Punto struck out chasing a pitch out of the zone on a 3-2 count to end the game with Coco Crisp stranded in the on-deck circle.
In addition to his game ending strikeout, Punto also recorded his sixth error of the season and grounded into a rally-killing double play earlier in the game, perhaps highlighting the A’s need to upgrade at second base as they look to capitalize on their league best 60-37 record.
The A’s maintained their 1.5 game lead over the Los Angeles Angels in the AL West standings thanks to the Angels’ 12th inning loss to the Seattle Mariners.
With the series tied at 1-1, the A’s and Orioles will conclude their weekend set tomorrow afternoon at 1:05 PM with Sonny Gray on the hill for the A’s and Kevin Gausman for Baltimore.