OAKLAND – Jason Hammel is off to one turbulent start in green and gold.
The right-hander didn’t make it out of the third inning Saturday night against the Baltimore Orioles, putting the A’s in too big a hole to escape in an 8-4 defeat.
Hammel gave up five runs on six hits and stuck around to face just 14 batters in his second start since he and Jeff Samardzija came over from the Cubs in a high-profile trade. He holds an 11.57 ERA in those outings.
It wasn’t the showing the A’s aimed for on a night they celebrated the 25th anniversary of their 1989 World Series championship. A nostalgic pregame ceremony was held to honor players and coaches from that squad, with the former Athletics being introduced as they walked down a red carpet and threw a tunnel of current Oakland players.
Jose Canseco, always a lightning rod for controversy, was given one of the loudest ovations from the sellout crowd, easing his concerns about how he’d be treated in his Coliseum homecoming. Ricky Henderson, Dennis Eckersley and Dave Stewart also received raucous receptions. Every player from the ’89 team in attendance placed a flower on the pitcher’s mound next to an etched out “35”, in memory of former A’s pitcher Bob Welch, who passed away June 10.
Emotions ran high, but then the A’s found themselves in a 5-0 hole by the third inning. The crowd stayed engaged throughout, as the A’s kept within striking distance. But trailing by four in the ninth, they put two runners aboard with two outs before Zach Britton struck out Nick Punto to end it.
Starting pitching report
Hammel’s night unraveled from the get-go. His first three hitters went single, walk, 3-run homer from Adam Jones. Then, after Hammel struck out Nelson Cruz and Chris Davis, he surrendered another home run to J.J. Hardy to put the A’s in a 4-0 hole.
For one thing, Hammel (0-2) simply hasn’t thrown enough strikes in an A’s uniform. He walked three in five innings against the Giants. On Saturday, 25 of his 58 pitches were balls, and that’s not a good ratio. He walked Steve Pearce and served up Jones’ homer on a 2-0 pitch. He fell behind 3-0 to Cruz before battling back to strike him out. But falling behind wasn’t his only problem. He had Hardy in an 0-2 hole before allowing his homer on a 2-2 pitch.
He gave up just a two-out single in a scoreless second. But he began the third by walking Jones, allowing Cruz’s single and then Davis’ RBI double to make it 5-0. That brought out the boo birds in the sellout crowd, and it was Hammel’s final hitter as manager Bob Melvin went to the bullpen.
In two starts since coming over from the Cubs with Jeff Samardzija, Hammel has allowed eight runs (seven earned) and 12 hits in seven innings.
Melvin had to call on his bullpen early and often. They kept the A’s within striking distance, but Jim Johnson gave up a homer for the second consecutive outing that padded the Orioles’ lead to 8-4.
At the plate
After falling in the early hole, the A’s gradually chipped away to stay within striking distance. Brandon Moss blasted his team-leading 22nd home run in the third off lefty Wei-Yin Chen. Jones bounced a two-run single up the middle in the fourth to put Baltimore ahead 7-1. But Jed Lowrie’s two-run double made it 7-3 and Lowrie came through again with a two-out RBI single in the sixth to bring the A’s within three runs.
In the field
Josh Donaldson had the A’s defensive highlight of the night with the bases loaded in the top of the third. He made a barehanded grab of Nick Hundley’s bouncer while he had his foot on the third base bag, then he rifled a throw across the diamond to complete an inning-ending double play.
A sellout crowd of 36,067 was on hand to celebrate the 1989 squad. But there wasn’t a whole lot of forearm bashing given how the night went for the home team.
Sonny Gray (10-3, 2.79) takes the hill for the A’s in the 1:05 p.m. series finale. Kevin Gausman (4-2, 3.29) draws the start for the Orioles.