Unfortunately for him and the Athletics (50-65), Baltimore (57-58) was more than happy to pound out nine extra-base hits, launching four home runs and adding four doubles and a triple in a 7-2 stomping.
Smith (L, 0-2, 5.29 ERA) said that aside from a few mistakes he felt good about himself on the mound. He did, however, make mistakes:
“That lineup is deadly. … They made the adjustments on my mistakes and they hit ’em — they hit ’em hard and far. … It puts a sour taste in your mouth after busting your butt.”
Trey Mancini bolstered his challenge of the slumping Aaron Judge for American League Rookie of the Year, matching Nelson Cruz‘s two-homer effort on Wednesday, mashing a pair of his own to lead the O’s.
Twice Baltimore went deep on consecutive offerings from the 36-year-old Smith. In the fourth, it was Mancini connecting on the back-end of the back-to-back bombs, following a solo shot from Adam Jones. In the sixth, he got the first, preceding one from Mark Trumbo.
Smith said that going into the game he had a plan to offset the timing of Mancini. But the gameplan didn’t work. In an attempt to quick-pitch, the slugger pulled a liner into the seats in left. Trying to get a fastball past him away, Mancini rifled one over the wall in right:
“That guy can hit. Probably the best hitter on the planet. … That guy, he’s on fire right now and I just ran in there with a gas can on my back.”
Oakland, whose offense has spent much of the season among the top home run producers, has continued to climb the ladder for homers allowed, now settling into the top-half of the major league pack — with 143 allowed on the season — having surrendering 10 in the past four games.
Manager Bob Melvin agreed with his starter, saying that aside from the home runs Smith did what he needs to do to keep his team in the game:
“It was just the homers. He got some balls up, they squared them up. Other than that, he had guys off-balance, just every mistake he made — if it was a single or a double, it would be another thing but every mistake he made they made him pay for it and hit homers, that’s what they do.”
“When you’re not scoring runs, that makes it tough on a guy like Smitty.”
Each of the four homers given up Thursday were of the solo category, but that was more than enough for Baltimore hurler Wade Miley, who continued his ownership of the Oakland Coliseum.
Tossing 7 innings, allowing a single unearned run on three hits and three walks, Miley (W, 6-9, 5.19 ERA) lowered his career ERA to 0.92 — two earned runs in 19-2/3 innings over three starts. He added seven strikeouts.
Jed Lowrie represented the entirety of the Oakland offense, slugging a pair of doubles to go along with a sacrifice fly, driving in both A’s runs. And he came mere feet from a two-run single in the ninth, but his flare to right was flagged down by Joey Rickard.
Smith will continue his hunt become the third pitcher to get big league wins nine years apart. The journeyman hurler was hammered for seven hits and five runs, though he was able to battle through 6 innings. Despite his efforts, though, the veteran acknowledged his own short-comings, saying he created too much of a hole to overcome subjugate:
“That’s everything in a nutshell: I left those balls up and they hit them out. Four solo shots in a blink of an eye, it felt like. Just too much to overcome.”
Brentwood native Paul Blackburn (3-1, 2.60 ERA) looks to offer the A’s reprieve from a string of four-straight less-than-quality starts — the last coming in his most recent outing. He faces Ubaldo Jimenez (5-7, 6.31 ERA), who has allowed four runs in 18-2/3 innings spanning his past three starts.
Matt Chapman was removed from the game in the top of the fourth due to illness. Manager Bob Melvin said he had been throwing up during the game, and continued to do so into it creating dehydration issues. Melvin added that he expects the rookie third baseman to be back in the lineup Friday. … Jake Smolinski (right shoulder surgery) took batting practice once again Thursday. Melvin expects the outfielder to begin a rehab assignment with Single-A Stockton next week, playing designated hitter. The club does not expect him to play in the major leagues this season, though. … Josh Phegley (left oblique) continued taking dry swings Thursday. He will take batting practice this weekend before beginning a rehab assignment