Having completed a winning week against the American League East on the road, the Oakland Athletics will attempt to duplicate the feat in an extended homestand when they see a familiar foe, the Baltimore Orioles, in a three-game series that begins Friday night.
The A’s took two of three in Baltimore to tip off a seven-game Eastern swing last week, picking up 3-1 and 7-2 wins to open the series before the Orioles got one back, 8-1, last Sunday.
The A’s, who also will see Toronto and Tampa Bay on this 10-game homestand, are expected to give veteran right-hander Mike Fiers his first start of the season in the series opener, opposed by Orioles ace left-hander John Means (2-0, 1.50 ERA).
Fiers was activated off the injured list earlier in the week after experiencing pain in his back and side during spring training. He will join the A’s as a sixth starter in an expanded rotation.
Fiers has pitched brilliantly in his career against the Orioles, going 4-1 with a 1.93 ERA in five starts.
This time around, he will be up against an Orioles attack that had been held to a total of one run in back-to-back losses to the New York Yankees before breaking through for just enough offense to pull out a 4-3, 10-inning win on getaway day Thursday.
Trey Mancini had three hits, Austin Hays a go-ahead RBI double in the eighth inning and Cedric Mullins a walk-off sacrifice fly in the 10th to give Baltimore two wins in four games in the series and three victories in seven contests on its homestand.
Mancini, who took 2020 off for cancer treatment, was hitting just .225 before his 3-for-4, two-RBI day.
“I’ve definitely felt better the last couple days,” he noted after the win. “I know I’ve had a couple spurts this year where it looked like maybe I broke out of it and everything, but I never had that feeling I’d say that I did a couple years ago, and I’ve been searching and searching.
“The name of the game is just relaxing. I was putting a lot of pressure on myself, I’m not going to lie.”
The A’s followed up their success in Baltimore with two wins in four games at Tampa without much offense. Losing power-hitting first baseman Matt Olson to a batting-practice accident on Thursday didn’t help.
Olson had to be scratched from the series finale, a game the A’s won 3-2, after getting hit in the eye by a ball that ricocheted off one of the poles on the batting-practice cage.
Teammate Matt Chapman, whose RBI double in the ninth inning broke a tie in the win, was hopeful — but clearly not optimistic — about Olson’s chances of returning to the lineup Friday.
“Nice to know nothing is broken and hopefully he’ll be able to play here shortly,” Chapman reported. “Depends on when his eye decides to open up. That thing is pretty sealed shut right now.”
Means, who worked the 8-1 win over the A’s last Sunday, has gone 1-1 in his career against Oakland with a 1.93 ERA in two starts.
He has never pitched in Oakland.
–Field Level Media