The Oakland Coliseum has long had a reputation as a pitcher’s park, thanks to its huge foul areas and spacious outfield, but the Orioles found out Tuesday night that appearances can be deceiving.
Right-hander Gabriel Ynoa and two relief pitchers combined to give up six home runs in an ugly 16-2 loss to the Oakland Athletics that featured a 10-run seventh inning, and, amazingly, lasted only two hours and 28 minutes.
It was the seventh straight loss for the Orioles (21-52).
And as a witness to a train wreck might say, it all happened so fast.
The score was 4-2 entering the sixth inning and the game was humming along when Ynoa allowed a two-run homer to A’s outfielder Robbie Grossman to stretch the Oakland lead to a fairly comfortable four runs. Ten batters later, Stephen Piscotty completed the carnage with a three-run shot off veteran reliever Dan Straily.
Left-hander Paul Fry stopped by in the middle of the inning to allow four runs, but Straily took the body shots. Straily allowed a long three-run home run to Khris Davis — the first batter he faced — and another to Piscotty before the inning mercifully ended. He also gave up a two-run home run to pinch-hitter Chad Pinder in the seventh inning.
That was hard to watch, even for the guy who had just gotten his lunch handed to him minutes earlier.
“To be in the game until that inning and then just to see the energy afterwards, it’s tough,” Fry said, “We’ve just got to come back tomorrow and battle and keep going from there.”
Though some players have acknowledged over the past few days that the losing is starting to weigh on them, Fry said he didn’t think this loss would put a serious dent in team morale.
“Honestly, I don’t think so,” he said. “We come in here with a really great attitude every day and a lot of energy, so we’re going to feed on each other and keep pushing each other.”
Straily allowed seven runs in an inning and a third in his previous outing Thursday against the Boston Red Sox, so it’s entirely possible there will be a roster move in his immediate future. But manager Brandon Hyde left him in to finish the game because he wasn’t inclined to use up any more of his battered bullpen with an afternoon game looming Wednesday.
“I didn’t want to pitch three or four of our high-leverage guys when we’re down 6-2 and it got away from us,” Hyde said. “A touchdown and a field goal and it was whatever it was. Yeah, not real good.”
The only thing that could have made things worse was if the Orioles had lost this game to the United States Women’s World Cup soccer team.
On a night of offensive fireworks, the Orioles had only one offensive highlight. Jonathan Villar hit a long home run to center field in the Orioles’ two-run fifth inning that cut a four-run Oakland lead in half.
It was a fairly nondescript game to that point. A’s pitcher Brett Anderson retired 13 of the first 14 Orioles batters and Ynoa allowed just a run on two hits through his first three innings.
The A’s stretched their lead in the fourth when Matt Olson doubled to open the inning, Ynoa hit Davis with a pitch and Ramón Laureano hit a three-run homer.
“It’s tough, because I didn’t leave the game in a winning position,” Ynoa said through interpreter Ramón Alarcón. “Unfortunately, things didn’t go well after that so it was tough to watch.”
Anderson worked seven strong innings and allowed four hits and just one earned run to improve his record to 7-4.
Right-handed reliever Jimmy Yacabonis will take the mound for the Orioles as an “opener” on Wednesday afternoon in the series finale. Right-hander Chris Bassitt (3-3) will start for the A’s.