By Hook or By Rooker! (Athletics-Orioles; 04.26.24)

Michael R. Smith/ALOST

akoiki-passport2 – by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief

BALTIMORE — The Oakland Athletics surely knew the baseball adage that, when facing an ace, it is best to get to him early and before he gets into a groove, and that’s exactly what they did three batters in. Not much success followed, but the Athletics scratched and clawed and pitched and slid their way into striking distance late in the game, where they finally enough together on offense to steal an impressive road victory.

Brent Rooker slammed an RBI double to left with two outs in the tenth inning to drive home the winning run as Oakland defeated the Baltimore Orioles 3-2 inside Oriole Park at Camden Yards on Friday evening. The game-winning hit by Rooker was preceded by ninth-inning rally by the Athletics to push a run across to tie the game off Baltimore closer Craig Kimbrel. She Langeliers, who scored from first base on Rooker’s double, also hit a solo home run off Orioles starter Corbin Burnes in the first inning.

Closer Mason Miller delivered another electric outing, striking out two in the bottom of the inning — including Gunnar Henderson with a 102-miles-per-hour fastball with two outs and the automatic runner at third — to earn his seventh save.

The Athletics were down to their final three outs and down 2-1 when they got to Kimbrel, notorious for having many of his save attempts turn into cliffhangers over his otherwise standout career. Rooker started the rally with a double to the left-center field gap before JJ Bleday walked. Abraham Toro then drove a 2-2 pitch to right that sailed just over the glove of defensive replacement Ryan McKenna for a double that scored Rooker to tie the score.

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The only out recorded by Kimbrel came on an errant slider that bounced away from catcher Adley Rutschman, who scampered to his right before throwing the ball to Kimbrel, who covered home plate and tagged out Bleday. (Bleday was initially called safe before a review overturned the call). Kimbrel proceeded to walk the next two batters to load the bases before Keegan Akin came in to relieve Kimbrel and work out of the jam by striking out Seth Brown and getting Ryan Noda to pop out on the infield to end the threat.

Epitomizing the fight-back by the Athletics was starter Ross Stripling, who came into tonight winless (0-5) with an ERA of 5.34. Going up against Burnes, the three-time All-Star and 2021 Cy Young winner during his time with the Milwaukee Brewers, Stripling allowed just two runs and six hits in 5 2/3 innings, and the solo home run he allowed to Cedric Mullins to tie the game in the third inning was one of the few mistakes he made all evening.

*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Friday evening’s game, with photos taken by DC-area photographer Michael Smith. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are seven pictures in total.

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