Jed Lowrie, the major league leader in doubles, doubled down on two-baggers scoring Oakland’s first run after a lead-off double the opposite way in the fourth, then tying things up with a ground-rule double in the eighth. Behind the continued extra-base exploits of their second baseman, the A’s (51-65) overcame early dominance preventing the Orioles (57-59) from getting back to .500.
Over the past 13 games, Lowrie is batting .360 (18-for-50) with nine doubles.
Knocking on the wooden podium table of the press conference room, the superstitious Bob Melvin attempted to explain Lowrie’s season:
“This is as healthy as he’s been, he’s been able to go out there multiple days in a row and he’s been consistent as anybody we’ve had all year.”
The second baseman truly has been Oakland’s most consistent contributor. He last saw his season batting average dip below .260 in mid-April, sustaining his stronghold in the heart of the A’s batting order. Now he finds himself eight doubles from his career single-season high (45), which he attained in 2013 — his first season (in his first stint) with the A’s.
Lowrie said there is no special effort to find gaps this season, he’s just focused on maintaining the professionalism he is lauded for by teammate Matt Olson:
“That’s my game. It’s not like I’m gunning to be the leader, I just want to go out and continue to do the same thing that I’ve been doing all year — keep my good approach; maintain my work in the weight room and in the cage — and see where it shakes out in the end.”
Lowrie did knock in one run to go with his 2-for-4 night, but he was more effective in setting the table for teammates. In the fourth, he was knocked in on a double by Khris Davis , who subsequently scored on an Olson two-run homer (5).
His rule-book double to the right-center field gap in the ninth, which began with the game-tying run at third and eventual game-winner at first with no outs, set the table for a Chad Pinder go-ahead sacrifice fly. But it was nearly so much more, he said:
“I knew, at the very least, it was a sac fly, and then when I saw where it was going I was hoping it was going out. Then, I was kinda pissed because it missed that double-wall by about a foot. We ended up getting (the go-ahead run) with a good at-bat from Pinder but it would have saved a lot of blood pressure points for Bob if that ball wouldn’t have bounced over the fence.”
The swings from Lowrie and Pinder were made meaningful by a dominant outing from the bullpen. The duo of Simon Castro and Santiago Casilla (W, 3-5, 3.98 ERA), who set up closer Blake Treinen (S, 6, 4.50 ERA) for save No. 3 with the A’s. Altogether, the relief trio retired each of the 10 batters faced.
Castro, who was called up on July 16, made his 11th appearance, the eighth of which coming without a run surrendered, and fifth of more than 1 inning — including 1-1/3 Friday.
“Castro has been big for us. We’ve kinda elevated his roles at times and he’s pitched really well for us. … He’s really become a guy that we’re counting on, whether it’s tie games, close games, ahead, we’re not afraid to use him.”
Of Castro’s performance thus far, Lowrie told SFBay:
“He’s been a great addition. What can you say, the numbers speak for themselves. And every time you have a guy who’s putting up the numbers that he is right now, sign him up.”
Though neither starter factored into the decision, both were good enough to keep their teams within striking distance. But, they went about it a bit differently.
Baltimore starter Ubaldo Jimenez (ND, 5-7, 6.25 ERA) was untouchable out of the gates, striking out seven his first time through the Oakland order and eight in the first three frames.
After Olson’s go-ahead homer in the fourth, Jimenez settled back in sliding the door shut on the wild-swinging A’s until he was drilled in the leg by a liner from Pinder in the sixth, forcing his removal.
The skipper said the former All-Star can be tough when he has his unusually large assortment of pitches working. And Olson said that was exactly the case:
“He had a lot of stuff working tonight. He was spotting up well; splitter, he was commanding it really well, throwing it in any count. Just a good night for him.”
Jiminez lasted just 5-1/3 innings but tallied 11 strikeouts, his first double-digit strikeout performance since May 2, 2014 — a high since Sept. 29, 2013, when he whiffed 13.
A’s starter Paul Blackburn was unable to hold the fourth-inning lead, surrendering two more and the advantage in the fifth.
For Blackburn (ND, 3-1, 3.02 ERA), it was a battle all night. One that saw him surrender a career-worst 10 hits along with two walks in his 5-2/3. But, he matched Jimenez, holding the Orioles to four runs:
“Being the kind of pitcher I am, whenever someone is on I just try and limit the damage — try and stay away from the crooked numbers as much as you can.”
“Shoot, he ended up with 12 base runners in the time he was out there, so he minimized the damage a little bit to keep us in the game. If that’s a bad one for him, then you’ll take it.”
Sean Manaea (8-6, 4.15 ERA) looks to right the ship, after back-to-back poor starts, taking the starting assignment Saturday night. He looks for his first win since July 16 (five starts) facing Dylan Bundy (11-8, 4.15 ERA), who has recorded wins in consecutive starts, and three in his last four.
Outfielder Boog Powell, acquired in the Aug. 6 trade that sent Yonder Alonso to the Seattle Mariners, was called up prior to the game. Powell was in the original lineup, batting ninth and playing center field, but was scratched after batting practice due to illness. Manager Bob Melvin said after the game that he is suffering from a upper-respiratory infection, so combined with his asthma the team thought it the smart thing to give him the night off. … Along with Powell, relief pitcher Michael Brady was recalled, marking his third call up in 2017. Outfielder Jaycob Brugman and utility man Mark Canha were optioned to Triple-A Nashville. … Bobby Wahl (right shoulder) has been scheduled for Thoracic Outlet Surgery to alleviate shoulder discomfort. Manager Bob Melvin said that the team will determine a timetable for Wahl’s return following the surgery, which is scheduled for Monday. Wahl last pitched on July 31, with Triple-A Nashville.