Baltimore handed Sean Manaea a third-consecutive poor start, knocking the lefty out before the vendor popcorn finished popping.
The Orioles (58-59) had apparently been informed that Saturday was fireworks night in Oakland, and went ahead with their own explosive display in the first frame. When the dust settled on the early Baltimore barrage, the Athletics (51-66) trailed 7-0.
Oakland attempted to climb back into the game, scoring the next three runs, but it wasn’t enough as the O’s stacked 20 hits, cruising to a 12-5 thrashing.
Manaea (L, 8-7, 4.59 ERA) has now allowed six runs in each of his three starts in August — 13 earned — never making it through the fourth inning and watching his ERA rise nearly a full run, from 3.82, in that time. The puzzled youngster couldn’t muster an explanation for this slump after the game, saying that physically he is fine:
“They hit the ball really, really well. … Past three starts have been awful. I really have nothing, just got beat really bad today.”
The Oakland starter allowed each of the of the seven batters he faced to reach. He was credited with an out, though, when a relay from Khris Davis and Marcus Semien got to catcher Bruce Maxwell ahead of Jonathan Schoop, attempting to score from first on an Adam Jones double.
It appeared to be a big play, momentarily, shifting momentum Manaea’s way and granting him the opportunity to escape with just two scoring. It didn’t take, and the Oakland hurler surrendered hits to each of the next three O’s before he was mercifully removed. The 1/3-inning start was the shortest of Manaea’s career and the six runs allowed are fewer than only one previous start — an eight-run shellacking at the hands of the Boston Red Sox last May.
Manager Bob Melvin offered slightly more reasoning for Manaea’s struggles:
“Just missing some locations, some balls in the middle of the plate. They hit some balls that were off the plate, in and away. Didn’t look like he had a real good feel for his slider. Just another tough day for him.”
Baltimore starter Dylan Bundy offered the worst possible response to his offense’s first-inning eruption, walking the first batter he faced, Boog Powell, on four pitches. The mental blunder turned into a run when Khris launched a two-run homer (32) to center.
Matt Olson added a solo homer (6) in the second, his second in as many nights.
Michael Brady offered the A’s a fighting chance to claw back into to contact, slowing the bleeding over 5-1/3 innings of relief work. The tourniquet wasn’t completely effective, though, as he gave up three runs matching the three scored on his behalf.
Melvin said the effort helped his club limit the number of unavailable pitchers heading into Sunday’s series finale:
“Any time a guy comes in and gives you that kind of length — close to 70 pitches — it’s a bullpen-saver for you. Starter comes out in the first inning, you’re at home, you’ve got to cover a lot of the game. … There’s some silver linings and some things in games like that, and that was one of them.”
Bundy (W, 12-8, 4.17 ERA) continued his recent run of success — 3-0, 2.14 ERA over his last three starts — limiting the damage to three runs over 6 innings, despite three walks and seven hits, including two homers, allowed. He also matched a career high — set five days ago — with 10 strikeouts.
Oakland put two more on the board, pulling to within four (9-5) in the eighth, but a Baltimore three-spot in the ninth undid the work.
The Oriole offensive attack was paced by lead-off man Tim Beckham, who sprayed four hits, including three doubles, in five at-bats. Through the first four games of this series, Beckham has gone 8-for-14 with three doubles and a triple, scoring six runs and driving in three more (each coming Saturday night). Jones added a 3-for-5 night with three RBIs.
Superstitiously, Baltimore manager Buck Showalter refused to speak at length about Beckham’s scorching start with his new club, adding a little levity:
“We’re not going to talk about him. Timmy likes playing outside, it looks like.”
That is not entirely a laughing matter, however. This season, Beckham is batting is batting .260 in dome stadiums — like the home field of his former team, the Tampa Bay Rays — while he has batted at a .324 clip in open-air stadiums. His career splits separate even further, as he has averaged .232 indoors and .316 outdoors in his four big league seasons.
The A’s and O’s complete their four-game set with an afternoon tilt Sunday. Kendall Graveman (2-3, 4.97 ERA) takes to the mound in search of a series-split, facing Jeremy Hellickson (7-6, 4.45 ERA), who will make his third start since being traded to Baltimore from the Phillies — he is 1-1 with a 2.08 ERA in the prior two.
Outfielder Jake Smolinski (right shoulder surgery) was sent to Single-A Stockton for a rehab assignment. He is not expected to return to the A’s this season. … Tim Beckham, who doubled in his second at-bat of the first inning, has collected hits in the first inning of each game in this series. Beckham was traded to Baltimore, by the Tampa Bay Rays, on July 31 and has gotten hits in each of his 12 games with the Orioles. He is batting .531 (26-for-49) in that time. Including his time as a Ray, he has gone 15-for-36 (.417) against the A’s this season. … This is the eighth time — in 11 games — that A’s pitching has allowed six or more runs in August. Oakland now holds a 5.97 team ERA (65 ER, 98 IP) this month. Striking out 11 times Saturday, the A’s matched their all-time franchise record suffering double-digit strikeouts in a game for the 59th time this season. That record was set in 2012.