OAKLAND, Calif.—Through two games at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, the Orioles have just three runs and 10 hits.
And yes, they’ve lost twice.
On Tuesday night, Zach Neal, the Athletics rookie right-hander making his second major league start, completely baffled the Orioles.
Neal allowed just one baserunner in 5 1/3 innings and three Oakland relievers shut down the Orioles.
Losing 2-1 to the Athletics before 13,572 at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, the Orioles looked flat.
After Neal (2-1) retired the first nine Orioles, Adam Jones led off the fourth with a home run, his 22nd of the season. Neal also allowed Jonathan Schoop’s sixth inning double before leaving for Liam Hendriks, who retired all five batters he faced.
John Axford pitched a scoreless eighth, allowing the third Orioles baserunner, Jonathan Schoop on a bases on balls.
Ryan Madson collected his 24th save. Jones began the ninth with a hit, his fifth in the series. Hyun Soo Kim quickly hit into a double play. Manny Machado walked, and Chris Davis struck out looking to end the game.
The Orioles (63-49) maintained their narrow lead in the AL East because Toronto (64-50) lost to Tampa Bay.
“Still in first place, right? Right,” Jones said after the game.
Jones has precisely half the Orioles hits in this series.
“There was a lot of weak contact,” manager Buck Showalter said.
Showalter doesn’t see evidence of hitters being overly aggressive
“There’s nothing different going on from when we scored 10 runs over in [Chicago] a couple days ago,” Showalter said. “They pitched well. And you know you’re going to get a lot of different looks here.”
Seventeen of the 27 Orioles outs were on ground balls.
“Just kept the ball down. I was talking to [Oakland catcher Stephen] Vogt when they made the pitching change, and he was like, ‘hey man, he kept the ball down.’ That’s going to give him the best shot. Tip your cap to the guy, he kept the ball down, it’s not like he struck us out,” Jones said.
“Just kept hitting ground balls and balls right at people. Tough luck, kind of the same thing as last night. Both of them sinkerball guys kept the ball down. Tip your cap and move on.”
Meanwhile, Wade Miley making his second start for the Orioles since his July 31 acquisition from Seattle, gave up two runs in the third inning.
With one out, Marcus Semien and Jake Smolinski singled. Danny Valencia’s double scored Semien and Khris Davis’ scoring fly ball brought home Smolinski giving Oakland (50-63) a 2-0 lead.
Miley (7-10) gave up two runs in six-plus innings.
“Felt pretty good. As the game went on, I felt better. I wasn’t able to command the ball great early, but I was able to kind of find it later on. [Matt] Wieters did a good job. Once again, we’re learning each other and he did a great job calling that game. The third inning just kind of got away. Didn’t execute …and that’s where they beat us at,” Miley said.
“I still have the jitters going in just like every start, but yeah, it felt a lot better. I felt more relaxed and was able to make pitches at time rather than the nerves get in the way.”
Showalter was pleased with what he saw.
“Good. Real good. A lot of balls on the ground. Very similar to their guy. And made very few mistakes. Athletic. Everything we were hoping we were getting with him. He’s been impressive,” Showalter said.
There are important Orioles not hitting. Since the All-Star break, Davis is 9-for-76, hitting .118 while Mark Trumbo is 15-for 91 (.165).
“As an offense we’re unable here in this park to get things going consecutively back-to-back-to-back, so come out tomorrow and do it all over again,” Jones said.
NOTES: Jones passed Al Bumbry for 10th place on the all-time Orioles hit list with 1,404. … Yovani Gallardo (4-3, 5.47) faces Ross Detwiler (0-0, 5.79) on Wednesday night. … Kim’s 10-game hitting streak ended.