Matt Olson couldn’t stay away too long.
Barely three days after his eye was sealed shut from an injury in the batting cage, Olson texted Bob Melvin before he even got to the ballpark, telling his manager:
“I am in the lineup today.”
Not only did Olson start at first, he helped spark the A’s to a 7-5 win over the Orioles Sunday afternoon with a gutty, 3-for-5, 2-RBI performance. Ramon Laureano saved the day in the eighth inning when he robbed a two-run homer to keep the game tied, then crushed a two-run shot of his own to give his team the win.
Melvin did not expect to have Olson in the lineup after the game yesterday. But this morning, Olson’s name was in the cleanup spot, and that is exactly what he did. You could still see the marks around his eye but it didn’t stop him from dominating all game after missing two games.
Olson was a triple away from hitting a cycle and his two-run homer in the third quickly set the tone for the Oakland offense.
Laureano stole the show late in the game after all eyes were on Olson being the key to the team’s win early on. Melvin spoke about Laureano’s spectacular eighth inning:
“He just has a will to compete. The home run ball, if he had to flip over the wall to get it, he would have flipped over the wall to get it. He was just not going to be denied on that play so there are certain guys that just find a different level of competing in certain plays and certain times of the game and certainly he is one of those guys and he did it in back-to-back plays in this game.”
Ramon was the hero on Sunday making a great catch in center, something he is used to. As always, he was super chill about an excellent play that will most likely be all over MLB Network Sunday night:
“I mean I just saw it and knew it was over my head and I just tried to catch it and glad I did.”
Melvin explained how impressive of a game Laureano had:
“There has been a lot similar, maybe the importance of it. Got to rank right up there and then the homer after it, its just taken over the game. It’s taking away two and then giving you two. I don’t know what the criteria is for WAR but if that is not a 1 WAR on its own in two plays, I don’t know what is. That is pretty dramatic stuff. “
Laureano had the first hit of the game off LHP Bruce Zimmermann before Olson beat the shift on a hard-hit ball to right. Orioles right fielder DJ Stewart and second baseman Ramon Urias both picked up fielding errors trying to get the ball back into the infield. A bad throw by Stewart, and Urias unable to field the ball cleanly, allowed Laureano to score from first. Laureano was on third by the time the ball was fielded, then dove into Severino at the plate to beat the tag as the ball rolled out, putting the A’s up 1-0. Olson landed on third and scored when Jed Lowrie singled to make it 2-0.
Melvin said Olson’s eye looked nothing like it did two days ago and was happy to have him back in the lineup:
That was big for us… Obviously we are down a couple pitchers but we get Oly back and right away he makes an impact. That was a good feeling. Then they just got some big hits with two outs and drove in some big runs and next thing you know we are in a different position then we certainly wanted to be in. Then Ramon took over so it was an important win for us, we didn’t want to lose three in a row to these guys at our place, you don’t wanna lose three in a row to anybody so they’ve been playing a lot better. But to take this game is a bit of a momentum shift even though going into now another four-game series with a team.”
Sean Manaea retired four straight to start the game, three of them with strikeouts. But Severino doubled and with two outs, Franco Galvis singled to bring in the Orioles first run of the game. Manaea escaped the inning allowing just the one run but in the third, gave up a solo homer to Austin Hays to tie the score at 2-2.
Manaea didn’t think he pitched that well, but all you can ask from your starter is to keep the team in the game for the first half and that is exactly when Manaea did, despite a homer and two wild pitches. Manaea said:
“No walks, got through five but overall it was not good. I think I got ahead of a lot of guys but I wasn’t putting them away or if I did it was taking a lot more pitches than needed to. Getting 0-2, 1-2 then working them to full count or whatever it is, I just have to get better at that, throw my pitches better and yeah. They put some good swings on balls and put me to work so just one of those days.”
Sean Murphy was also hit by a Zimmermann pitch to lead off the third, then Olson brought him home with a moonshot 106.5 mph off the bat, landing 18 feet over the 400 -foot mark in straight center to give the A’s back a 4-2 lead.
Manaea entered the fifth with 67 pitches and allowed two runs off three singles that tied the game at 4-4. Every time the A’s took a lead, the Orioles quickly fought back and kept themselves in the game. He may not have earned the win but knew how he felt when the team did win:
“I was mid conversation with Diek in the training room and then the conversation ended, we ended up both screaming pretty loud. That was crazy… It is pretty fitting of the baseball Gods to bestow the power onto Ramon. I mean you make a play like that in the 8th to save a tied ball game and then to come back and hit a bomb like that, its unbelievable. I can only imagine the excitement in the dugout but I know I was going crazy in the training room, it was crazy.”
Olson led off the fifth inning with a ground rule double on a one-hop over the right field wall. He must have had a feeling since the moment he woke up because he was absolutely terrific after missing the last two games. Olson tagged to third on the second out of the inning and Mitch Moreland walked to put runners on the corners. Zimmerman was relieved and Adam Plutko struck out pinch-hitter Seth Brown swinging to end the threat.
Manaea also commented on how quickly Olson healed and was glad his teammate could take eyes away from his sixth start where he allowed four runs in five innings:
“A couple days ago it was, I don’t even think he could open his eye so for him to come back like that, it was pretty unbelievable so its crazy how fast it healed and unbelievable everyone in the lineup, its great, to have him back. “
Newly called-up Jordan Weems relieved Manaea in the sixth tied 4-4. Manaea allowed four runs in his five innings on seven hits and a homer. Manaea struck out five, didn’t walk a batter but threw two wild pitches. Weems and Plutko both threw quick 1-2-3 frames to keep things tied after the sixth.
Jake Diekman earned a strikeout to open the seventh before he walked Urias. Mullins grounded up the middle but Elvis Andrus made an error and runners were safe on first and second with one out. Austin Hays fouled out to Olson for the second out but Mancini drove in the lead runner to give the Orioles their first lead of the game, 5-4 in the seventh.
Melvin spoke about the entire pitching staff, especially Weems, who hasn’t been in the big leagues for a couple weeks now:
“We got contributions from Jordan in a role that maybe he is not used to. We needed it today. I didn’t want to have to use Romo, I did get him up a bit later, we did not have much left after Lou so that was important for him. Certainly Diekman giving up a run is almost an upset these days, you expect him to be perfect all the time. Petit gives up one hard hit ball that Ramon catches that ball on, Sean kept us there just enough so it was more about a pretty even game until Ramon took it over.”
Plutka walked Sean Murphy to lead off the seventh as the A’s trailed by one run before Olson — who was 3-for-3 and a triple away from hitting for a cycle his first game back — stepped to the plate, prompted an Orioles pitching change. Brandon Fry relieved Plutka and struck out Olson looking for the first out. Matt Chapman singled up the middle and Murphy tried to go to third but was tagged out. Melvin had said the other day, if you are going to get thrown out at third, it’s going to be with one out.
With Chapman on second as the tying run, Lowrie slapped a soft grounder to Franco, who scooped the ball and couldn’t get the throw in time to first. Then, Mancini couldn’t get the ball out of his glove at first and Lowrie was safe. Lowrie’s speed added pressure, and Chapman would score from second on an infield hit to tie things at 5-5.
The A’s new third base coach Mark Kotsay did an excellent job and Melvin broke down the play that ended up being huge:
“Koz was on that too so between the two of them, it was a great play, had to be aggressive in that kind of situation. We bogged down a little bit from earlier in the game and trying to find a way to score. You could see Mancini trying to come get it quicker and try to get rid of it, he bobbled it a little bit and it was a play that based on the innings before that, a play to press the play that we needed to make.”
Petit pitched the eighth inning with the game again tied, this time 5-5. Petit gave up a one-out double to Mountcastle and with two outs and a runner on, Stewart smashed the ball to center and Laureano saved the day on a jaw-dropping catch off the wall in center, climbing the wall to make the catch and giving a giant first bump to end the inning scoreless. That was the biggest play of the game and saved the A’s big time. Fry forced a fly out to Brown and was relieved by Travis Lakins Sr. who retired the next two batters to end the eighth.
Petit (W, 4-0, 1.04 ERA) showed quite the excitement when Laureano made the play, earning him a win. Manaea was happy to see his teammates happy and was also happy for an A’s win, which avoided a sweep:
“He just doesn’t really, he shows some emotion out there, but I think that was defiantly the most amount I have ever seen him show and its exciting. You don’t see that play very often and in that moment it was huge… when you see a guy like Yues [Petit] to show emotion like that, it means a lot, thats crazy.”
Mark Canha took a 91-mph fastball to the arm in the second with two outs to become most-hit batter in Oakland A’s history. His 60th hit by pitch passed Sal Bando at 59. … Jordan Weems was recalled from the alternate site Sunday morning after J.B Wendelken and Jesús Luzardo were both placed on the IL. Wendelken has a left oblique injury and Luzardo is dealing with a hairline fracture in his left pinky. LHP Adam Kolarek joined Weems on Sunday’s call up.