BALTIMORE –- After a 13-inning game that drained the A’s bullpen, as well as their emotions, Oakland at least would have liked to come away with a victory Friday night.
It didn’t happen, and the A’s were left trying to search for positives to hang their hat on following an 8-6 loss to the Orioles after Manny Machado hit a two-run homer off Aaron Brooks to end it.
Brooks was brought in for an unexpected relief performance after Drew Pomeranz left with one out in the 13th due to forearm tightness. Pomeranz said he felt cramping in his forearm that could have been due to fatigue after he threw 1 2/3 innings Thursday and then was needed for 2 1/3 innings Friday night. He said he doesn’t believe it’s anything serious.
“It’s frustrating to lose a game like that,” Pomeranz said. “I didn’t want to come out. You want the ball. You want to beat these guys. You wanna get us back in (the dugout) because you know we can score some runs off them.”
Brooks threw just two pitches, the second one a changeup that Machado drilled into the left field seats for a walk-off two-run shot.
That ended a four-hour, 27-minute marathon in which the A’s gave up a 4-0 lead, then rallied to tie it in the ninth with two runs off Orioles All-Star closer Zach Britton. The A’s also got a two-run homer from Stephen Vogt and a four-hit game from Coco Crisp, encouraging stuff for two players who have been struggling with the bat.
“We’ll bounce back, but it’s pretty frustrating, especially when you get to a guy like Britton,” Vogt said.
The bottom of the ninth featured one of the A’s most bizarre –- and nerve-wracking -- plays of the season.
With two outs and the winning run at third, Baltimore’s J.J. Hardy hit a hard comebacker off Fernando Rodriguez. The reliever lost his bearings and had no idea the ball was sitting right next to his feet. He retrieved the ball in time to get Hardy by a step at first and send the game to extra innings.
“That was probably the longest second-and-a-half I’ve ever experienced in my life,” Vogt said. “I had to find it first, and Fernando has no idea. I’m just screaming ‘Feet! Feet! Feet!’”
There’s almost certainly to be roster maneuvering before Saturday night’s game as the A’s appear in need of bullpen reinforcements.
Pomeranz likely won’t be used with his forearm acting up. Rodriguez’s availability is unknown after he threw two innings Friday. Felix Doubront will be on just two days’ rest after throwing 6 1/3 innings of long relief Wednesday. That would appear to leave Fernando Abad, Edward Mujica and Evan Scribner as the only three relievers who should be available for certain.
Perhaps switch pitcher Pat Venditte, currently at Triple-A Nashville, makes his return to the A’s to provide relief help.
Brad Mills, who made a spot start Friday night for Oakland and threw five innings, will likely be sent down to make room for a reliever. The A’s also have to decide what to do about Monday’s start after Brooks, listed to go that day, was summoned in relief Friday. Sonny Gray, recovering from back spasms, is an option for Monday if he feels good throwing a bullpen session Saturday, manager Bob Melvin said. Gray was scratched from Thursday’s start.