(AP) — T.J. McFarland’s two scoreless innings of one-hit relief in the Baltimore Orioles’ loss in the middle game of this series may not seem significant – except that it marked the first time in six games that the Oakland Athletics faced a left-handed pitcher.
It hardly seems like enough preparation for seeing another one less than 16 hours later considering the Athletics’ woes versus Wei-Yin Chen.
Chen can improve to 5-0 in his career against Oakland by helping visiting Baltimore capture this three-game set Wednesday.
Oakland (48-60) had not faced a lefty starter or reliever in the first six games of this 11-game homestand before McFarland – called up from the minors before the game – entered in the seventh inning and yielded only Ike Davis’ double in the Orioles’ 5-0 defeat.
“He really makes the bullpen better,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “It’s good to get him back.”
Now the Athletics will try to improve upon a league-worst 8-19 mark versus lefty starters as they face Chen (5-6, 3.24 ERA), who has a 1.69 ERA in five starts against them for his lowest mark against an opponent he has faced multiple times.
Chen may have a matchup problem with Billy Butler, who is 8 for 18 against him. Josh Reddick is hitless in nine at-bats versus Chen but has yet to play in this series due to lingering stiffness in his lower back.
Oakland’s three RBI leaders can’t regularly hit lefties with Reddick at .190, Butler at .189 and Stephen Vogt at .226. Vogt is also in a 2-for-34 funk after striking out three times in four hitless at-bats Tuesday.
Chen has never faced Billy Burns, a .327 hitter against southpaws. Utility man Danny Valencia, who is 4 for 15 against Chen, could make his Oakland debut after being claimed off waivers from Toronto on Monday.
Chen’s streak of yielding three runs or fewer in 11 straight games ended in Friday’s 8-7 victory over Detroit in which he was charged with six runs over a season-low 3 1-3 innings.
Baltimore (54-52) lost for the third time in 11 games, going 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position as its streak of homering in 10 straight was snapped. Chris Bassitt earned his first victory by striking out seven in seven innings.
The day game after a night game means that both Vogt and the Orioles’ Matt Wieters may not be behind the plate. Wieters hasn’t started at catcher in consecutive games since July 6-7.
“We’re going to talk about it a little bit after the game, see how he feels,” Showalter said.
Slugger Chris Davis is hitting .310 with five homers and 15 RBIs in his last eight games. Jonathan Schoop is 8 for 14 in his last four.
A’s starter Kendall Graveman (6-7, 3.84) took a step in the right direction by yielding an unearned run in 6 2-3 innings in Friday’s 2-1 loss to Cleveland in which he avoided defeat. He posted a 10.22 ERA in losing his previous three starts, recording only four outs in the last of them.
“I was getting ahead of hitters and trusting everything I threw,” Graveman said.
The right-hander recorded five outs and allowed a double to J.J. Hardy over two relief appearances against the Orioles last year.