Pratt's Instant Replay: Orioles 6, A's 1

Pratt's Instant Replay: Orioles 6, A's 1
July 29, 2012, 8:43 pm
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A record-breaking performance sends the A's packing with a 6-1 loss. They should head home with their heads held high though, after going 4-2 on a key East-Coast road trip against two of the American League Wild Card contenders.At the PlateThe A's had a really difficult time solving Orioles starting pitcher Wei-Yin Chen. The Taiwanese pitcher gave the A's batsmen fits at the plate. He set the tone by striking out the side in the first inning. Then in the fourth inning he struck out the side again, this time on 10 pitches -- Yoenis Cespedes swinging, Chris Carter looking, and Brandon Inge looking.Chen set a new record for strikeouts by a Taiwanese player with 12. His pitch count was high though and he couldn't make it out of the sixth inning. Right after Chen received a standing ovation for setting the new record, Cespedes brought him back down to earth with a sharp line drive RBI-single up the middle putting the A's on the board. The A's loaded the bases in that frame but Derek Norris popped out to end the threat.Starting Pitching ReportTravis Blackley had some trouble locating his pitches in this game. Finding the strikezone ended up being a figurative and literal pain in the neck for the Australian-born starting pitcher. Omar Quintanilla led off the third inning with a bunt single toward first base. Blackley dove for the ball and landed awkwardly. A's trainer Nick Paparesta and Bob Melvin visited him on the mound and examined his neck, but he stayed in the game after a few warm up tosses. Blackley was skipped in the rotation just before the All-Star Break with back stiffness so it was particularly concerning to see him in pain after diving for the ball.Quintanilla would continue to pester the A's after reaching first on that bunt single. He advanced to third when Blackley chucked an ill advised pick off throw past Chris Carter that ricocheted all the way down the right field line. Carter ended up being charged with the error and Blackley's problems were only just beginning. He walked J.J. Hardy next, then gave up an RBI-double on a hard-hit ball off the bat of Adam Jones. Matt Weiters stepped to the plate and struck a fastball down the middle for a three-run homer, giving the Orioles a 4-0 lead.Blackley looked out of sorts early in the game. His problems intensified after he tweaked his neck diving for that bunt attempt. He ended up with four walks and just one strike out. He has only allowed three homers this season, so the fact that Wieters took him deep could indicate the neck injury was bugging him.He ended up with five innings pitched and five earned runs and took the loss.Bullpen ReportJim Miller entered the game in the sixth inning and failed to record the shutdown inning for the A's. He allowed a solo homer to Quintanilla who gave the A's fits in this series. Miller bounced back and pitched scoreless seventh and eighth innings. He struck out four batters and threw 49 pitches. Miller gave up a run but did a great job saving the rest of the A's bullpen. The A's don't have a day off until August 9.It seems that the A's relievers have been frequently used in one-plus inning situations.In the FieldThe A's had a chance to turn a double play on a ground ball hit by Wieters in the fifth. Inge fielded the ball and threw to Weeks who had to avoid the sliding runner in the process of throwing to first. Weeks' throw to first was high, and 6'4" Chris Carter jumped to receive the throw but it clanked off his glove allowing Hardy to come around to score. Carter was charged with the error on the play, but he wouldn't have even had a shot at the ball if he wasn't so tall.Up NextThe A's head back home to open up a 10-game homestand against the Rays, Blue Jays, and Angels. A.J. Griffin (3-0, 2.25 ERA) gets the ball in the first game. He has gone six innings in all six of his Major League starts. The rookie starting pitcher has yet to allow more than three earned runs.The A's will face yet another left-handed pitcher on Monday, and one of the best in the game, Rays starting pitcher David Price (14-4, 2.57 ERA). Price is 2-1 with a 3.62 ERA in his career vs. Oakland.