Instead, they seemingly awakened after two blasé innings to batter the Oakland Athletics, 10-2, and win for just the fourth time in their last 20 games at the Oakland Coliseum.
“The first couple innings I felt like we had a little jet lag working," said first baseman Chris Davis, who hit his eighth homer of the season in the sixth inning. "So I think it was huge for us to get a bunch of hits and everybody kind of get that monkey off their backs after traveling across [the] country.”
The Orioles (13-9) are now 10-29 in their last 39 games in Oakland, and are attempting to win their first season series here since 2007. They’ll play three more at the Coliseum, part of a three-city, 11-game jaunt out west.
Playing before a seemingly disinterested announced crowd of 11,220, the A’s (13-10) tied a season-high for runs allowed and now have dropped six of their last seven games.
McLouth had two hits, two RBIs, two runs scored and two stolen bases to pace a 15-hit attack that matched the Orioles’ season high in runs scored.
“I feel pretty good. I feel like I am swinging at good pitches and that’s what I’m happy with for the most part," McLouth said. "Getting in counts I want to be in and putting good swings on pitches that I want to swing at instead of kind of letting the pitcher dictate what the pitches are that I offer at.”
McLouth, who has reached base safely in 15 of his last 25 plate appearances, ignited a club that looked jetlagged when the night began. The second inning was particularly sleepy for the defense, which committed two official errors and another miscue that was ruled a hit.
With one out, Brandon Moss hit a one-hopper into the shift on the right side of the infield, but J.J. Hardy couldn’t field it cleanly. With two outs, Josh Reddick walked and Josh Donaldson followed with a hard liner that Adam Jones should have caught.
The Gold Glove center fielder’s troubles on defense this season continued. Jones came in a step, stopped, and then ran back as the ball hit off his outstretched glove. It was ruled a double, giving the A’s a 2-0 lead.
The Orioles committed another error in the inning when third baseman Manny Machado, who had made a brilliant diving stab and great throw earlier in the second, pulled Chris Davis off the bag at first base with a high throw.
That miscue didn’t matter when Hammel induced a grounder by Coco Crisp to end the threat. Starting with that at-bat, Hammel (3-1) retired 12 of his final 15 hitters despite not having his best control – throwing only 59 of his 104 pitches for strikes.
Still, Hammel allowed just three hits, two walks and two runs (none earned) through six innings to lower his season ERA from 4.74 to 3.82.
"In the past I would have folded easily," Hammel said. "The first few years of my career, I’d get so frustrated that I’d start trying to do too much. And the only way to get through that stuff is to do less, honestly. It’s something I’ve learned over the years. It was nice to have a lot of runs to work with. That definitely made it easier.”
Oakland right-hander Jarrod Parker (0-4, 8.10 ERA) continued his nightmare start to the season, giving up three runs in the top of the third to erase an early lead. With one out, Nolan Reimold doubled to start the rally. Later, that at-bat – which included a check swing call by first base umpire Jim Reynolds – proved to be controversial.
McLouth followed with a RBI single, stole second and then scored on Nick Markakis’ single. Jones doubled to score Markakis, bringing A’s pitching coach Curt Young out to the mound to talk to Parker. Before he left, Young jawed with Reynolds about Reimold’s checked swing and was ejected by the umpire.
The rally ended after a call that went against the Orioles when Davis struck out on the sixth pitch of the at-bat. Three pitches earlier, Davis appeared to be hit on the left foot by a Parker pitch and ran toward first before being called back to continue the at-bat.
Davis got his revenge in the sixth when he homered against Parker, a solo shot to left.
Parker was charged with six runs allowed in 5 1/3 innings.
Lefty Troy Patton took over for Hammel in the seventh and pitched two scoreless innings before rookie T.J. McFarland – in the first trip of his life to the West Coast – finished it with a scoreless ninth.
“I like the mentality everybody’s got right now," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "Of course, they have it just about every day.”