On the first night of games after the All-Star break, two of the top teams in the American League went at it as the Orioles visited the A’s in Oakland. Despite being up heading into the final half of the 9th, the A’s rallied for three runs as they toped Baltimore, 5-4. This was the first of a three game split, as two teams that lead their respective divisions look to start the second half of the season strong.
The Athletics were the first to get on the board when Coco Crisp scored off a John Jaso double. The score was the first of two earned runs that Chris Tillman would let up on Friday night, as he would eventually end up with a no decision on the evening.
The Orioles would get on the board in the fifth inning when Johathan Schoop hit his seventh homerun of the season, which also scored J.J. Hardy.
On the backside of the inning, Derek Norris would go yard off of Tillman, tying the game back up at 2.
Instead of pulling Jeff Smardzija, the A’s let him go into the seventh inning to try and grind away for Oakland. However, Manny Machado had opposite ideas when he hit his 10th homerun of the year on a two-run shot to left. The O’s would then hold the 4-2 lead until the bottom of the ninth.
When it looked like it was all over, the O’s sent in closer Zach Britton to relieve Tommy Hunter. Britton was unable to get any outs on the evening, as the A’s were able to get Yoenis Cespedes and Brandon Moss on board, before Josh Donaldson stepped up and nailed a homerun to straight center field.
The A’s won their final game before the All-Star break, making this their second in a row. They are also 7-3 in their last 10 games. Despite their hot play in July, they are still only 1.5 games up on the Angels in the AL West. The Angels are 9-1 in their last 10, which just so happens to be the best stretch currently in the majors, as they keep the heat on Oakland.
Despite the loss, the Orioles still have a four-game cushion over the second place Yankees. But even with that much space between them and second place, the O’s are still in a tough AL East. As the way things stand now, the Orioles have a 61.8% chance of making the playoffs. Even though the Angels are right on the A’s trail, Oakland still has a league-high 99.4% chance of making the postseason.
The odds still show Oakland as a 9/2 favorite to win the 2014 World Series this fall. The Orioles are still in the swing of things at 14/1.
The A’s have represented the incredibly tough AL West in both of the last two seasons. The Orioles are looking to return to the postseason for the first time since 2012. Be sure to check in with sportspicks.com handicappers throughout the rest of the second half to see how these two teams, as well as the rest of the MLB, wrap things up.