Donaldson’s walk-off propels A’s past Orioles
OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Oakland Athletics trailed 4-2 entering the bottom of the ninth inning Friday night, and it looked as if the Baltimore Orioles and third baseman Manny Machado -- the man A’s fans love to hate -- were going to have their way.
Then A’s left fielder Yoenis Cespedes led off with an infield single off Baltimore closer Zach Britton and moved to third on right fielder Brandon Moss’ broken bat single to right.
“Now you’re thinking good things are going to happen,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said just minutes later.
More like great things for the A‘s.
Third baseman Josh Donaldson crushed Britton’s first pitch over the center field fence for a three-run, walk-off home run, lifting the A’s to a 5-4 victory at the O.co Coliseum. The walk-off homer was Donaldson’s third of his career and second this season. He has five walk-off hits overall.
“I enjoy those moments,” Donaldson said. “It’s one of those things where you’ve got to try to relish the opportunity, and anytime I can step up to the plate with an at-bat to help our team win the game or win the game right there, I feel better about it.”
The A‘s, who lead the American League West, beat the AL East leading Orioles in the opener of their three-game series.
Donaldson, who started for the American League All-Star team, crushed Britton’s sinker for his 21st home run of the season.
“It was definitely tough,” said Britton, who had gone 10 straight games without giving up a run. “I made some good pitches but they got on. I was one pitch from getting a double play ball. But Donaldson really put a good swing on the pitch -- you have to tip your cap to him. It was a sinker. It’s my best pitch. I‘m one quality sinker away from getting that double play and getting us closer to winning the game.”
As has happened so often in the past, Donaldson saved his best swing for the game’s biggest moment.
“Nothing was given to him in this game,” Melvin said. “He had to fight to get into the position he’s in now. He’s got a football mentality, and he is a gamer. A lot of his best work is done late in games with guys on base.”
Donaldson started at third base for the American League in the All-Star Game and took part in the Home Run Derby.
“Everybody kept saying how it was going to mess my swing up,” Donaldson said. “Maybe it’s the fact that I didn’t hit a lot of homers in the home run derby. So with that being said, I think I saved a couple.”
Machado and second baseman Jonathan Schoop hit two-run homers, powering the Orioles to a 4-2 lead, but it disappeared in the ninth.
Machado faced the A’s for the first time since a bat throwing incident June 8 at Camden Yards that cost him a five-game suspension. Machado was booed loudly by A’s fans whenever he came to the plate or made a play in the field, but he answered with a loud home run off right-hander Jeff Samardzija in the seventh that put the Orioles ahead 4-2.
Baltimore shortstop J.J. Hardy ripped a one-out single, and Machado lined Samardzija’s next pitch over the left-field fence for his 10th home run of the season. Machado went 2-for-4 on the night.
“I paid my dues already,” Machado said. “I was suspended five games, I sat out. The booing is part of the game and I have to get used to it. You have to be able to block it out. You just try and channel your energy to do well. I have to gain everyone’s respect back from everyone that I let down. And just move on.”
Schoop hit a two-run homer in the fifth, putting the Orioles ahead 2-1, but A’s catcher Derek Norris answered with a solo shot in the bottom of the inning.
Samardzija, making his third start since being traded from the Chicago Cubs to Oakland, gave up four runs on six hits, including two home runs, over seven innings but escaped with a no-decision, thanks to Donaldson.
“He loves those spots,” Samardzija said. “Just from being here for two weeks I can tell that. He kind of gets those big eyes and gets excited. That’s a guy you want up in that situation, two guys on and no outs in the ninth.”
Orioles right-hander Chris Tillman allowed two runs on four hits over 6 2/3 innings but also got a no-decision. Tillman struck out six and walked one.
Left-hander Eric O‘Flaherty pitched a scoreless ninth and got the win for Oakland.
NOTES: A’s CF Coco Crisp, who missed the past four games while dealing with a sore neck, returned to the lineup. ... Oakland RF Josh Reddick (strained right knee), who played two rehab games this week for Class A Stockton, continued his rehab assignment Friday night with Triple-A Sacramento. Reddick will play Saturday and Sunday for Sacramento then be re-evaluated, A’s manager Bob Melvin said. ... Orioles RHP Ubaldo Jimenez (sprained right ankle) threw a bullpen session Thursday and will throw another one Sunday. If all goes well, he’ll make a rehab start Wednesday, Orioles manager Buck Showalter said before the game. “Yesterday was better. The last thing is throwing from the stretch. I‘m hoping that goes really well Sunday and he can go out and pitch,” Showalter said.