OAKLAND — The Baltimore Orioles know how to punish a pitcher for mistake pitches.
Chris Smith found out the hard way.
The Orioles twice homered on back-to-back pitches off the right-hander as Baltimore hung a 7-2 loss on the A’s to begin a four-game series at the Coliseum.
Baltimore, despite being a game under .500, finds itself very much in the American League Wild Card chase, and the Orioles must be looking at this extended weekend stay in Oakland as a chance to make a move.
The A’s would like to spoil their chances, but that’s only going to happen if their starting pitching turns things around. Smith (0-2) gave up a career-high four homers and allowed five runs over six innings, elevating the rotation’s ERA to 7.14 over the last 13 games.
Baltimore collected 10 hits. Amazingly, the first nine of them went for extra bases. Here’s five things to know as the A’s lost for the fifth time in the past seven games:
STATING HIS CASE: If not for the Yankees’ Aaron Judge, Baltimore first baseman Trey Mancini would be making a serious push as an AL Rookie of the Year candidate. He went deep twice off Smith, hitting the back end of consecutive homers with Adam Jones in the fourth and handling the front end with Mark Trumbo in the sixth. Mancini is hitting .296 with 20 homers and 60 RBI.
A SPARK AT THE TOP: With just seven hits, the A’s didn’t have much going offensively. But Rajai Davis continues to ignite things from the leadoff spot. He led off the bottom of the first with a single. Orioles lefty Wade Miley (6-9) had him picked off first but Davis was safe at second anyway and advanced to third when Mancini’s throw went into left field. Then Davis came home on Jed Lowrie’s sacrifice fly. Over his past 25 games, Davis is hitting .329 (23-for-70).
TRENDING THE WRONG WAY: Smith, solid for the A’s over his first three starts, has now allowed 13 runs over 15 innings in his past three outings (one of them in relief).
PHEGLEY UPDATE: If all continues to go well for Josh Phegley, the catcher hopes to begin a minor league rehab assignment early next week as he works back from a strained left oblique. Phegley caught a couple of bullpen sessions Thursday and took 50 swings with the bat Wednesday. He hasn’t played since July 24
CHAPMAN’S EARLY EXIT: Matt Chapman exited the game after three innings with what the A’s announced as an illness. Ryon Healy shifted from first to third base to replace him, and Matt Olson entered the game to play first.