The Orioles got off to a bad start on the first night of a 10-game road trip, losing their seventh game in a row and falling to 1-9 on the season. Oakland jumped out to a 2-0 lead after the first inning and eventually led 5-0 until the O's finally scored in the seventh. The damage was done, though, and the Orioles could only muster one more run in the final two innings.
Ben Sheets, who wasn't particularly sharp last night, threw six shutout innings, allowing five hits and three walks while striking out four. The A's played solid defense behind Sheets and even made two web-gem-worthy plays to keep the O's from scoring (a great diving catch by Kevin Kouzmanoff in the first inning on a line drive down the third base line by Miguel Tejada, and another diving catch by Rajai Davis on a Felix Pie line drive to center field in the fifth).
David Hernandez didn't pitch particular well -- five runs, four earned, seven hits -- but he did strike out six while walking only one (and also hitting a batter). But the O's didn't make things any easier for Hernandez by playing some rather lousy defense behind him. Let's examine four of those mistakes last night:
1) In the first inning, after Davis reaches first on an infield single, he clearly is looking to steal second base. Hernandez, though, throws over a few times, and he actually catches Davis leaning towards second base. But on the throw over, Garrett Atkins misses the tag on Davis, and even though Dave Trembley argues the play with the first base umpire, replays showed that Davis was safe. Giving the A's an extra out allowed them to jump out to a quick two-run lead.
2) In the fourth inning, Adam Rosales hits a leadoff double to right-center field. Trying to hurry up and get the ball back to the infield, Adam Jones grabs the ball, whirls, and fires an inaccurate throw that misses both cutoff men, allowing Rosales to reach third base. If Jones simply slows down a tad and makes a strong throw back to the infield, Rosales would not have advanced. Jones was, deservedly so, charged with an error.
3) Still in the fourth with Rosales on third and one out, Ty Wigginton is unable to stop a ground ball to second, which allows Rosales to score to put the A's up 4-0. Wigginton was playing a little closer to home with the runner on third, which made the play more difficult, but he's still charged with an error on the play. If Jones and Wigginton both make their plays, the A's should have had a runner on second with two away.
4) With runners on first and third and one out, Eric Chavez hits a flare to center field. Jones charges and makes the play, but he muffs the transfer and isn't able to make a potential throw home to cut down Ryan Sweeney at the plate. Jones didn't make an error, but a clean play could have saved another run.
After these miscues, the A's were up 5-0 -- a commanding lead with the way the O's are scoring runs. Again, Hernandez didn't have one of his best pitching performances, but with a little help, the game should have been closer.
Offensively, the Orioles had eight hits and four walks, yet they only scored two runs thanks to going 0-8 with runners in scoring position. Jones finished the game with three hits -- a single, double, and a triple -- and was the only Oriole to record more than one hit. Nick Markakis had a sacrifice fly and a double, and Luke Scott had a double and a walk. Atkins also doubled.
Tonight, Kevin Millwood gets the start against Dallas Braden, who has been surprisingly effective in two starts this season: 13.0 IP, 2.77 ERA, 12 Ks, 2 BB.