The A’s (39-36) hit just seven doubles and one dinger sprinkled among their 11 knocks in the 8-3, series-sweeping victory.
Oakland right-hander Chris Bassitt (W, 4-3, 3.64 ERA) flirted with history in Wednesday’s series finale, holding the Orioles (21-53) hitless through the first 5-1/3 innings.
The matchup was reasonably tame on the offense end of things through the first four frames. The A’s had mustered just one hit going into the fifth, when Stephen Piscotty finally lit the fuse with two outs, slapping an 0-1 fastball off the out-of-town scoreboard in left for a double off Josh Rogers (L, 0-1, 8.18 ERA), who replaced opener Jimmy Yacabonis (ND, 1-1, 4.91 ERA) in the third. It would be the first of a pair of two-baggers for Piscotty.
Meanwhile, Bassitt had been cutting through the Orioles lineup like butter through the first five innings and Oakland manager Bob Melvin said he was very impressed:
” I thought that was as good as stuff as we’ve seen him have in a while.”
The O’s got to Bassitt in the sixth, though, and things unraveled so quickly he didn’t finish the inning.
With one out, Jonathan Villar won a seven-pitch battle with Bassitt on a line-drive single to left to break up Bassit’s burgeoning no-no. Then the A’s starter lost the strike zone, starting with Chris Davis.
Bassitt said the walk to Davis was a result of a self-created mental block:
“To be honest with you, for some reason, I put it in my head that Chris Davis was gonna hit a home run off me and for some reason just blacked out. I just pitched around him for some stupid reason. I don’t know why it was in my head. I don’t know why I thought it, but I was like, ‘he’s about to hit a home run off me.'”
Davis entered Wednesday’s contest slashing .160/.244/.284 with 71 strikeouts and just five home runs in 180 plate appearances.
“You got a no-hitter going, then he gives up the hit, and it just looked like his command wasn’t as good after that, so we went and got him, it was time to get him.”
Ryan Buchter threw just five pitches in relief before Melvin dispensed with him, too, because four of his throws were in the dirt and he walked home a run. It was Yusmeiro Petit who would get the job done, striking out Hanser Alberto on three pitches to shut the rally down and keep Oakland on top.
The Athletics went after the O’s bullpen to fortify their lead in the seventh, sending eight men to the plate. This time Phegley got the rally started with a leadoff double off Shawn Armstrong, setting Marcus Semien up to extend his hitting streak to 16 games with a ground ball single to right.
Matt Chapman hit a grounder to second and Hanser Alberto tried to get Phegley at home, but Phegley slid home under the tag safely and Chappy made it to first on the fielders choice, chasing Armstrong from the game.
Oakland visited further torment on Armstrong’s replacement, Richard Bleier, who allowed a single, double, wild pitch and walk. By the time they were done with Bleier the Athletics had taken an 8-3 lead and the Orioles were put to bed.
Bassitt said the success of the series sweep over the Orioles, in which Oakland outscored Baltimore 20-7, is something the A’s are capable of extending. He said:
“We just got to maintain this and to maintain consistent work every single day. We’re a great team, the offense is clicking.”
Trey Mancini came out of Wednesday’s contest after sustaining a left elbow contusion when Bassitt hit him with a sinker in the first inning. Bassitt said the mistake pitch came as a result of a layer of skin coming partially off of an old blister on his middle finger a few pitches earlier. Trainers went out to the mound and cut the dead skin off immediately after, and Bassitt said he regretted waiting:
“I really hope that he’s okay, ’cause I should have called the trainers out [sooner] and said, ‘Hey, cut this thing off because it feels weird.’ But unfortunately, I didn’t.”
Mancini’s 1.2 accumulated WAR in 2019 is currently the highest of any Orioles position-player.