The Orioles obviously are suffering from some kind of delayed jet lag, because they had a team brain cramp during the early innings of Saturday night’s game against the Oakland A’s at whatever that stadium is called now.
It started in the second inning when Buck Showalter allowed Manny Machado to swing 3-0 with Mark Reynolds on second base and the Orioles leading by a run. Machado grounded a ball to shortstop and Reynolds somehow found himself in no-man’s land between second and third. That cost the Orioles a runner in scoring position, but you can’t assume they would have gotten a two-out hit.
Fast forward to the bottom of the third inning, when starting pitcher Zach Britton took the mound staked to a 2-0 lead and proceeded to dig himself a hole so deep that he couldn’t see out. He fell behind 3-1 to .211 No. 8 hitter Stephen Drewand allowed a long home run, then walked Coco Crispwith one out, hit Jonny Gomeswith a pitch and went on to snap a couple guys out of RISP O-fers and give up five runs in the inning.
That might not have been fatal, however, if third base coach DeMarlo Hale and Adam Jones had not teamed up on a horrible baserunning error in the fourth. Jones singled to open the inning and Chris Davis followed with a double into the left field corner. The Orioles should have had runners at second and third with no one out, but as Jones slowed up at third, Hale appeared to wave him home and he was thrown out easily.
The only way the lead runner should be trying to score in that situation is if he is 100 percent certain of reaching the plate standing up. Just a terrible decision with big implications for the game and the pennant race.
The Orioles went from being one hit away from turning it back into a one-run game to getting nothing out of the inning and revitalizing struggling A’s starter Jarrod Parker, who was not very sharp but seemed to regain his self-esteem and command in a hurry after that.
Hopefully for the O’s, they won’t look back at this game as the turning point in their September stretch run, but if it is, they’ll have nobody to blame but themselves.