A’s just couldn’t buy a run as O’s Lyles and bullpen shutout Oakland 1-0

Oakland A’s runner Billy McKinney was originally called safe but the call was overturned on review ruling that Baltimore Orioles catcher Anthony Bemboom just got the tag on McKinney before he touched home plate in the second inning at the Oakland Coliseum on Wed Apr 20, 2022 (AP News photo)

Baltimore 1 5 0

Oakland 0 7 1

Attendance: 2,703

Wednesday April 20, 2022

By Lewis Rubman

OAKLAND–The line score on last night’s game was missing one row. It should have read “Rubman” with a 2 in the error column. The Orioles roster did include Chris Ellis. I inadvertently had consulted the roster for April 17, not the one for the 19th.

I also referred to the right handed Ryan McKenna who pinched hit for Odor in the top of the ninth as a switch hitter. I apologize for these errors. Unlike Edith Piaf, I regret my mistakes.

Before the unusual 3:07 start of this afternoon’s game, the A’s found themselves in an unfamiliar situation. Their 7-5 record put them in a tie with the Los Angeles Angels for first place in the AL West.

This marked the first time since June 20 of last year that Oakland has had any share of the top spot in the division. It’s even more remarkable that the Athletics and Angels also are tied for the second best won-lost record in the entire junior circuit.

Before game time, early compared with the originally scheduled first pitch, late compared with that of most day games, Oakland announced that one time ace of the future and now major question mark A.J. Puk had been reinstated from the Covid list.

They also promoted Mckey McDonald, a left handed hitting infielder who had performed well in spring training, from Las Vegas. At the same time, Oakland put Kevin Smith on the ten day injured list because of a bone bruise on his left ankle.

His placement on the IL was effective yesterday, the day after he suffered his injury. The Athletics also returned last night’s winning pitcher, Zach Logue to their Triple A farm team in Las Vegas.

The Wednesday afternoon recap: Mark Kotsay and Scott Emerson sent righty Doulton Jefferies to the mound. He came to work with a 1-1,1.93 record, the result of his having held the Phillies to scoreless over five innings, a personal high, on April 10.

He limited the Phils to a pair of hits and walks while striking out two to pick up the win. Five days later, he had another career high. This time it was surrendering seven hits, which he did in 4-1/3 innings. He allowed two runs, both earned, and was charged with the loss.

Today, despite some early difficulties with his control, he had an excellent outing. He pitched six full innings, allowing only one run, and it was unearned on three hits. He didn’t walk anyone but hit two Oriole batters and unleashed a wild pitch. 54 of his 83 pitches were considered strikes, but you have to remember that when the bat makes contact with a pitch, it counts as a strike.

He took the loss because that one unearned run was enough to defeat the Athletics. Jefferies’ performance lowered his ERA to 1.17.

Facing him for the birds was the durable 31 year old 11 year veteran Jordan Lyles. The unimpressive 0-1, 5.23 2022 record he brought with him was in line with his lifetime figures of 54-80, 5.21. But today he was not the mediocrity that his history indicated.

He stymied the A’s, holding them scoreless over five innings on five hits, a walk, and a hit batter. Only 28 of his 89 offerings were balls. He got the win, which brought his season’s ERA down to a respectable 3.52.

Jeffries opened the game by hitting Cedric Mullins, who immediately was thrown out attempting to steal second. That kept him from scoring on batter, Anthony Santander’s, double. One inning later, Jeffries hit Robinson Chirinos with a 92.2 mph fastball, forcing the Orioles’ catcher to leave the game. Subsequent examination showed that he had suffered a facial contusion. That, I”m glad to report, was the last time this afternoon that Jefferies hit anyone with a pitch.

Oakland almost took the lead in the bottom of the second, in which Billy McKinney led off with a single to right and came home on Seth Brown’s double to right center. Home plate umpire and crew chief Greg Gibson called him safe, but the Orioles challenged his decision and cooler heads in New York correctly overruled the call.

It was the A’s turn to challenge authority in the bottom of the fourth. The inning began with a 90.6 MPH sinker from Lyles that hit Murphy led off the frame. Two outs later, he moved into scoring position on second when Christian Bethancourt singled to left center.

Elvis Andrus followed with a sharp grounder that Kelvin Gutiérrez fielded at third. Gutiérrez won the race to the bag, but the Athletics didn’t see it that way and challenged the call. This time, New York upheld the ruling, which looked like the correct decision to me.

One more inning, and Lyle was through for the day. Paul Fry and Dillon Tate set the A’s down in order in the sixth and seventh, respectively, preserving the Baltimore bullpen’s excellent record so far this season. Even the lowly Orioles have some bright spots in their roster.

Stepthen Vogt, playing first, had to leave the game in the top of the eighth when he hurt his foot or ankle coming down hard on the bag after leaping to catch a high throw from Andrus.

The A’s threatened in the eighth. Tony Kemp led off with a 3-2 single to right off Bryan Baker. He moved on to third when Baltimore’s shortstop Chris Owings deflected Nuese’s hard grounder that went into left field for a single.

Baker got Murphy to swing and miss on an 0-2, 93mph four seamer for the first out, and that ended his mound duties at a third of an inning. Jorge López came in to strike out Christian Lopes, a veteran of 10 minor league campaigns, who had made his first major league appearance pinch hitting for McKinney in the sixth.

Lopes’s third strike was a wild pitch that allowed Neuse to take second. With the potential tying and winning runs in scoring position, Oakland’s hopes rested on Seth Brown. He grounded out meekly, Mancini to López.

López got the A’s out 1-2-3 in the ninth to preserve Baltimore’s victory and gain his second safe of the season

Oakland used three relievers to keep the game close. AJ Puk threw 1 -1 /3 innings; Jake LeMoine and Adam Kolarek. an inning apiece. Puk was the only member of the trio who allowed anyone to reach base, yielding to hits and a walk.

The series winds up Thursday at 12:37, with the now second place A’s sending Paul Blackburn (1-0 ERA1.80) against Baltimore’s Tyler Wells (0-1 ERA 6.35)

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