Bench-clearing scuffles, home runs, brushbacks, ill-fated steals of home, extra innings, and a potential walk-off challenge play — Friday night's A's-Orioles game, won by Oakland 4-3 in 11 innings, had a little something for everyone.
At the center of much of the action was A's third baseman Josh Donaldson, who began the scoring with a solo homer — his 17th of the season, tied for third in the league — off Baltimore starter Wei-Yin Chen in the top of the first inning. The A's added another run via a Derek Norris solo shot in the top of the second, and Baltimore got on the board via three straight singles in the bottom of the frame. In the third inning, Manny Machado stroked a one-out single, took second on a groundout, and then was tagged out between second and third by Donaldson. The 21-year-old Orioles phenom apparently didn't appreciate the manner in which that out was made:
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Donaldson may have applied a bit of extra force in making the tag as Machado nearly ran out of the basepath trying to elude him, but it didn't appear intentional. The wildly backpedaling Machado — looking rather out of control on his surgically repaired knee, mind you — spiked his helmet before he even hit the ground and came up jawing at Donaldson, nose-to-nose. Benches and bullpens emptied, but Orioles coach Bobby Dickerson managed to restrain Machado before punches were thrown, and nobody was ejected.
After Chris Davis tied the game with a solo homer off Oakland starter Tommy Milone in the fourth, Machado exacted a measure of revenge with his fourth homer of the year in the fifth, giving Baltimore a 3-2 lead. The Orioles were apparently still sore, however, and when Donaldson came up in the sixth, Chen brushed him back with a 94 mph fastball, up and in on 1-1, and then grazed him in the left elbow with a similarly-placed 95 mph heater on 3-2. No warnings were issued either time; Donaldson took his base without incident, aside from tossing his arm guard.
The A's tied the game with a run in the eighth, and then in the 10th, they got a runner to third with two outs without scoring. The Orioles had a golden opportunity to win the game in the bottom of the 10th against Oakland reliever Fernando Abad. Nick Markakis singled and Machado (who came into the game hitting just .238/.292/.333) sacrificed him to second, so Abad intentionally walked Nelson Cruz. Adam Jones followed with a single to right field, but Brandon Moss threw a strong one-hopper home, where Norris tagged out Markakis. Baltimore manager Buck Showalter challenged home plate umpire Larry Vanover's ruling. Had it been overturned, it would have been the ballgame, but Vanover's call was upheld:
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Cruz took third on the the throw, and with Davis at the plate, Jones took second on defensive indifference. On a 2-2- count, Cruz realized he wasn't being held on the base and apparently mistook himself for Jackie Robinson, trying a straight steal of home — this from a player with exactly one steal to his name this year. Abad, who might have been excused for rolling his eyes, calmly threw to Norris, who tagged him out to end the inning:
The A's plated the decisive run in the top of the 11th via a pair of pinch-hitting catchers. John Jaso
, batting for Norris, hit a leadoff double off Evan Meek
, took third one out later on an error by shortstop J.J. Hardy
, and scored when Stephen Vogt
, batting for Kyle Blanks
, singled to leftfield. Sean Doolittle
came on in relief and struck out Davis, Hardy and Stephen Pearce on just 12 pitches to preserve the 4-3 win, which lifted the A's AL-best record to 38-23 and dropped the Orioles to 30-29.