Matt Harvey hopes to follow in the footsteps of teammate John Means when he is scheduled to get the ball for the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday afternoon as they look for a third straight win over the Oakland Athletics.
The clubs met four times in April, including a three-game set in Baltimore last week in which the A’s won the first two before falling victim to a well-pitched game by Means last Sunday.
As luck would have it, the A’s drew the unbeaten Orioles ace again in the opener of a 10-game homestand and suffered a similar fate, losing Friday night 3-2 after having been beaten 8-1 in the first meeting.
Harvey (2-1, 4.26 ERA) didn’t face the A’s last week. He pitched Monday’s 4-2 home win over the New York Yankees.
Harvey, who spent part of one season in the American League West while with the Los Angeles Angels in 2019, has started just once against the A’s in his career. He didn’t get a decision in his Angels debut in March of 2019 in an eventual 6-2 win over Oakland, allowing two runs and four hits in six innings (3.00 ERA).
Baltimore got home runs from Cedric Mullins and Austin Hays in Friday’s win, a game that was in doubt until the very last pitch.
Oakland put the potential tying and winning runs on base with no outs in the last of the ninth against Baltimore closer Cesar Valdez, but Mitch Moreland’s liner that could have tied or potentially won the game was snared by third baseman Rio Ruiz. Valdez then got a pair of flyballs to end it.
It’s a game of inches, A’s manager Bob Melvin lamented afterward.
“You go up against a good pitcher, it’s going to be tough to score a run. Our pitching held them down, too,” he observed. “It’s about getting a big hit or two late in the game. Typically at home, we end up doing that. We just didn’t today.
“Moreland’s ball is scorched. A couple feet right or left, it’s a different story.”
A’s left-hander Jesus Luzardo (1-2, 5.40) suffered a similar fate when matched up with Means last week in his first career outing against the Orioles. He pitched into the seventh inning, allowing just three runs, but that was two too many with the Baltimore ace on the hill.
So he’ll take an 0-1 career record and 4.05 ERA against the Orioles to the mound Saturday, this time going head-to-head with Harvey.
In a game that featured four solo home runs, two by each team, the Orioles out-hit the A’s 8-5 in the series opener.
While Melvin walked away blaming bad luck, Baltimore manager Brandon Hyde had a different view, believing his team had ample opportunity to take a bigger lead earlier in the game.
“It would be nice to score a couple more to give a little bit of breathing room in the ninth inning for all of our pitchers. (We had) opportunities to score a couple times,” he noted. “We made it hard on ourselves tonight.”
The A’s, who had a 3-1 win at Baltimore to start last week’s series, have now played five straight games decided by a total of six runs. They are 2-3 in those games.
–Field Level Media