BALTIMORE — Bob Melvin had just spent the better part of three hours watching the Oakland Athletics stumble through an embarrassing defeat, and the manager wasn’t about to let his players escape with just a shower and a bite to eat.
Melvin gathered the squad together in the closed clubhouse to discuss some of the low points of Sunday’s 18-2 loss to the Baltimore Orioles.
“We had a little meeting,” Melvin said. “We haven’t had too many of those (lopsided losses). You’re going to have some during the course of the season; sometimes it ends up exposing some things that need to be talked about.”
The pitching was awful, the offense ineffective and the defense porous. Although Oakland was not charged with an error, a few balls dropped between two players who appeared uncertain who was supposed to catch them.
“At times guys were having a hard time seeing the ball off the bat,” Melvin said. “Some of the jumps in the outfield would suggest that they didn’t see it right away.”
Perhaps, but on one occasion Coco Crisp and shortstop Marcus Semien collided in short left field.
“I think Coco tried to call him off and Marcus didn’t hear him,” Melvin said.
The Orioles tied a franchise record with 26 hits. The barrage began against Kendall Graveman (6-9), who allowed six runs in 3 1-3 innings.
“I take full responsibility for what happened out there today,” the right-hander said. “It kind of got out of hand early.”
Homers by Gerardo Parra and Adam Jones off Graveman helped put Baltimore up 6-1 in the third, and a nine-run, 10-hit fifth erased any lingering suspense.
The A’s ran through five pitchers before turning to first baseman Ike Davis, who took the mound for the second time this season. He allowed a single and a walk in a scoreless eighth.
Baltimore will try for a sweep on Monday night. The Orioles haven’t swept a four-game series from Oakland since 1987 and have never accomplished the feat in Baltimore.
Facing the Athletics, who own the AL’s worst record, has greatly enhanced Baltimore’s playoff chances. By going 5-1 against Oakland this month, the Orioles have moved within four games of the Yankees in the AL East and are in the thick of the wild-card race.
“We can control our own destiny,” Jones said. “Just go out and win games.”
Eight players had multihit games for the Orioles. Jones went 3 for 4, Parra matched his career high with five hits and Caleb Joseph homered and had a career-high four RBIs. Steve Clevenger contributed a career-high four hits, and Manny Machado had three hits and three RBIs.
The beneficiary of the relentless attack was Wei-Yin Chen (7-6), who gave up two runs and eight hits in six innings. The Taiwanese left-hander is 5-0 with a 2.30 ERA in seven career starts against Oakland.
Brett Lawrie homered for the A’s, who have dropped 10 of 11 on the road, including a season-high seven straight.
Oakland trailed 6-2 before Baltimore sent 13 players to the plate in the fifth. The key blows were a two-run single by Henry Urrutia, a two-run double by Machado and a two-run homer by Jones.
“It was more like follow the leader,” Jones said.
Having a pitcher face a position player is nothing new, except in the eighth inning Davis ended up pitching to Orioles pitcher Jason Garcia, who had been inserted in the DH spot. Garcia walked on four pitches.
“He wasn’t supposed to swing there,” Showalter said, “but he put his batting gloves on for the photo op.”
Athletics: RHP Sonny Gray will start Monday night after being sidelined since Aug. 7 with back spasms. He won’t be limited by a pitch count. “If that were the case we probably would give it more time,” Melvin said.
Orioles: C Matt Wieters missed a fourth straight game with a strained right hamstring.
Athletics: Gray (12-4, 2.06 ERA) has accounted for nearly a fourth of Oakland’s 51 wins.