A’s drop four out of last five games; Lose to O’s 8-4

The Baltimore Orioles line up for the hive five post game congratulations following their win over the Oakland A’s Sat May 1, 2021 game at the Oakland Coliseum (photo from USA Today)

Baltimore 8 -10 – 0

Oakland 4 – 8. – 2

By Lewis Rubman

May 1, 2021

OAKLAND–The A’s started the season by losing seven straight games. They followed their first win by losing one more game and then going another 13 without a single defeat, giving them a record of 14-8. They ended the month at 16-11, a winning percentage of .593.

This represents an almost exact regression to the norm, since their totals for the last three seasons, including the truncated 2020 campaign, were 230-157, which comes to .594. So it would be reasonable to anticipate that we’ll see a season of ups and downs like those of the month we’ve just endured, although the swings might not be as dramatic as what we’ve seen so far. In other words, fasten your seat belts, folks, we’re in for a bumpy ride.

In this afternoon’s contest, Oakland didn’t have to contend with an opponent on the mound as intimidating as John Means, who almost completely mastered them last night. Instead they faced the veteran right hander Matt Harvey, making the 150th start of a big league career that has had its ups and downs. Recently, it’s taken a modest upturn.

His penultimate start resulted in his first win since July 13, 2019, when he still toiled for the LA Angels. His most recent start, one earned run in six innings against the Yankees, was, as the Orioles’ game notes point out, his first quality start since April 28, 2019 and marked the first time since July 13, 2018 that he’d notched consecutive wins.

Oakland countered with Jesús Luzardo, who, at 1-2, 5.40, has been tantalizing A’s fans with occasional displays of his undoubted, but inconsistently displayed, talent.

Both pitchers got through their first two frames with little difficulty. Then disaster struck the home town crew.

The top of the third was a travesty. The Orioles did a little bit to help their cause, but most of their runs were gifts from the A’s. Here’s a brief summary of the action:

D.J. Steward hit a bouncing ball wide of first that bounced off Seth Brown’s glove for an error.

Ramón Urías’s single sent Stewart to third.

Luzardo walked Cedric Mullins to load the bases with nobody out.

Austin Hayes singled to left, plating Steward and Urías. Hays advanced to second on the hit and to third on Matt Chapman’s (of all people!) errant relay throw to third.

Trey Mancini got a Texas League single that Elvis Andrus couldn’t catch up with in short left field, driving in Hays.

Maikel Franco singled to left, moving Mancini up a base.

Mancini and Franco moved up another notch on a wild pitch.

Pedro Severino fouled out to the catcher, Aramis García.

Mancini scored on Ryan Mountcastle’s sac fly to right. Franco moved on to third.

Franco scoredon another wild pitch.

Finally, Freddy Galvis flew out to center.

That was all Luzardo would pitch. The line for his three inning stint was six runs, evenly divided between earned and unearned, on five hits, two walks, and two wild pitches. He struck out two, and, of the 64 pitches he threw, 34 were strikes. He eventually was charged with the loss, his third against a lone win,. His ERA now stands at 5.79.

Luzardo was replaced by Deolis Guerra, who pitched two innings, allowing nothing but one walk before J.B. Windelken took his place to pitch the sixth.

Windelken wasn’t as effective as his predecesor. J.B. allowed a single to Freddy Galvis, after which D.J. Stewart deposited an 84 mph change up over the right field fence, 341 feet from home plate.

Down 8-0 with two out in the sixth, Oakland made a comeback of sorts, led by the two players who had committed costly errors in the fatidic third. Chapman singled to right and scored on Brown’s double to the same field, After Cole Sulser relived Harvey, Tony Kemp brought Brown home with the A’s second tally.

Harvey’s line ended up at two runs, both earned, on four hits and a walk in 5-2/3 innings of work. He delivered 90 pitches, 54 for strikes. He ended up getting the win, making him 3-1, 4.06 for the season.

Mark Canha continued the comeback, leading off the home seventh with his fourth home run of the season, this one off a 92 mph four seamer that he drove into the left field seats, just to the right of the foul pole. After Sulser walked Jeff Lowrie and struck out Laureano for the first out, the southpaw Tanner Scott was brought in to face Oakland’s DH, fellow lefty Mitch Moreland. Scott got both Moreland and Chapman out to preserve Baltimore’s 8-3 lead. Sulser’s 2/3 of an inning, in which he gave up a walk, a hit, and a run on 21 pitches, still left him with an enviable ERA of 1.08.

Oakland used two other relievers. Reymin Guduan and Sergio Romo threw a scoreless eighth and ninth, respectively, with Romo retiring the side in order. Guduan required a pitcher’s best friend after giving up a lead off single.

Laureano gave the A’s a last hurrah by blasting a 420 foot two out homer to left center in the bottom of the ninth, Too little, too late, but nice any way, and it made the final score look almost respectable.

The A’s will try to salvage a win out of this series when they send Sean Manaea (3-1, 2.83) against the Orioles and Bruce Zimmermann (1-3, 5.33) in a 1:07 battle of left handers.

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