The Oakland A’s Ramon Lureano (22) swings for a base hit in the bottom of the tenth inning on Wed Apr 21, 2021 at the Oakland Coliseum against the Minnesota Twins (AP News photo)
By Jerry Feitelberg
The Oakland A’s head East to start a six-game road trip. The A’s will play three against the Baltimore Oriole’s and finish the trip against the Tampa Bay Rays. The A’s currently reside in the American League Western Division with a 12-7 record. The A’s started the season 1-7 but have won 11 in a row. No team in Major League history has ever started the season with an 0-6 record and then had an 11-game winning streak at any time during the same season.
The Orioles have been a franchise in the American League since 1903. They were known as the St.Louis Browns for 51 seasons. Their last year in St. Louis was 1953. The Browns were doormats in the AL for many, many years. Their only appearance in the World Series came in 1944 during World War II.
They lost to the St. Louis Cardinals. The Browns featured a one-armed centerfielder, Pete Gray. Bill Veeck owned the team, and he sold it to people who promptly moved the team to Baltimore and named them the Orioles. Since 1954, the Orioles have won three World Series.
They swept the LA Dodgers in 1966 to win their first crown. The Orioles right-fielder was Frank Robinson. The Cincinnati Reds traded Robinson to the O’s as they thought Robinson was an old 30-year-old player. All Robinson did that year was win the AL MVP>They beat the Big Red Machine in 1970. Third baseman Brooks Robinson put on a defensive show in that series that people still remember 51 years later.
The Orioles won their last championship in 1983, downing the Philadelphia Phillies. Shortstop Cal Ripken, Jr. led his team that season. Frank Robinson, Brooks Robinson, and Cal Ripken, Jr. are all Baseball’s Hall of Fame members.
Things have not gone well for the Orioles in recent years. Their last appearance in a World Series was in 1983, 38 years ago. The last time they made the playoffs was in 2016. The Toronto Blue Jays met them in the Wild Card game. The Jays sent the O’s home.
The A’s have not played the Orioles since the 2019 season. There are many new faces on the team. The Orioles traded their superstar third baseman, Manny Machado, to the Dodgers in 2018 as Manny was going to be a free agent at the end of the season. Manny signed with the San Diego Padres in 2019.
Buck Showalter was gone as the Orioles manager. Brandon Hyde replaced him and was tasked with bringing the club back to respectability. Hyde replaced Showalter before the start of the 2019 season. Showalter was the last manager to take the O’s to the playoffs.
The Orioles finished last in 2017 with a record of 75-87. In Showalter’s last year as manager, Baltimore fell to the bottom of the barrel posting a record of 47-115. In Hyde’s first year, Baltimore finished last again. They improved to 54-108.
They had a new young player, Trey Mancini, to lead them out of the wilderness. Fate wasn’t kind to Mancini. Trey had to miss the 2020 season due to cancer treatment. Mancini has recovered, and he will see playing time this weekend. The Orioles finished fourth in the AL East last year with a record of 25-35.
Oakland A’s fans don’t know too much about the Orioles’ roster. They have some new players and some oldies, too. As mentioned above, Baltimore wants to move up in the Eastern Division. They shocked the baseball world by sweeping the Red Sox at Fenway Park by winning all three games. However, they have faltered since then to enter the game against Oakland with a record of 8-10.
The A’s will send lefty Cole Irvin to the mound to start Friday night. Irvin will be making his fourth start as an Oakland Athletic. He did not fare well in his first two outings. In his last game against the Detroit Tigers, Irvin pitched six shutout innings. His overall record ia 1-2 with an ERA of 4.60.
Baltimore will counter with righty Jorge Lopez. Lopez will also be making his fourth start of the season. Lopez was hammered in his first two starts. He pitched well against Texas to earn the win. For the season, Lopez is 1-2 with an ERA of 8.56.
Chris Bassitt will go for Oakland on Saturday. The Orioles have not announced their starter for the Saturday game. Righty Matt Harvey may get the call. Other pitchers that could start are lefties John Means and Bruce Zimmerman.
The A’s enter the series scoring an average of 4.74 runs per game. The A’s have players up and down the lineup that can send the baseball into the stratosphere. Their big first baseman, Matt Olson, has been scorching hot. Olson had three home runs in the last two games of the series with the Minnesota Twins.
Olson has hit six homers and has 15 RBIs so far this year. Mark, Canha, Ramon Laureano, Stephen Piscotty, Jed Lowrie, Sean Murphy, and Seth Brown have all hit home runs to help the A’s to the current 11-game winning streak.
The A’s starting rotation has done the job since the 1-7 start. The team ERA is 4.71, ranking 26th in MLB. The reason for the high ERA was the poor start in the first games of the year. The A’s beat the Twins Wednesday in a wild one 13-12. Before the Wednesday game, the A’s pitching staff recorded four shutouts in five games. A’s starters Sean Manaea, Chris Bassitt, Frankie Montas, and Jesus Luzardo have all done well recently.
The A’s Mike Fiers will be available shortly. Fiers won 15 games last season. The A’s will have to figure out who Fiers will replace. The A’s bullpen has done well, too. A’s manager Bob Melvin has used righty Lou Trivino and lefty Jake Diekman as the closer.
The Orioles will probably put these guys on the field Friday night. Trey Mancini will be at first base. Rio Ruiz will be at second, Freddy Galvis at shortstop, and Maikel Franco, the former Philadelphia Phillie, will be at third. DJ Stewart will be in left field, Cedric Mullins in center, and Austin Hays in right. Paul Severino will handle the catching chores for the Orioles.
The Las Vegas oddsmakers probably would favor the A’s to win the series. The magic of baseball, as players well know, you never know what’s going to happen. Even the lowest of teams can upset the applecart of the favored team. Jorge Lopez could pitch his best game of the year. The A’s could send him to an early shower. No one knows. That’s the beauty of baseball. That’s why they play the games.
Jerry Feitelberg is an Oakland A’s beat writer for http://www.sportsradioservice.com