A sold-out crowd of 36,067 (the eleventh sellout of the season) filled the O.co Coliseum, and waves of nostalgia and pride swept the stadium, as the 1989 championship squad was celebrated in an emotional pregame ceremony. A night removed from a thunderous start to the second-half of the season, the crowd was still buzzing from Josh Donaldson's walk-off blast, helping rile up what has become an interesting rivalry between the A’s and Orioles, who came prepared to fight this evening.
The ceremony was extremely moving. Jose Canseco returned to a thunderous ovation from fans. Local heroes Rickey Henderson and Dave Stewart garnered amazing responses, as did Tony La Russa, Dennis Eckersley, Dave Henderson, and current A's coaches Curt Young and Mike Gallego. Dave “The Cobra” Parker strutted out to the mound despite his battle with Parkinson’s disease.
Mark McGwire, Rick Honeycutt, Terry Steinbach and Walt Weiss––who couldn’t attend because they now serve as coaches with other teams (Weiss manages the Rockies)––recorded video tributes. They, too, received loud ovations. There was a somber tinge to the celebration, as each Athletic was given a yellow rose to place on the mound, as fallen teammate Bob Welch was remembered with his number 35 etched in the dirt.
The game could not match the magic of the 1989 reunion, however, as the A's fell to the Orioles 8-4. It started extremely rough, with ex-Oriole and new Athletic Jason Hammel allowing four runs off homers from Adam Jones and J.J. Hardy in the top of the first inning. He was then knocked out of the game in the third inning, allowing another run. Dan Otero got out of the jam, but struggled in the fourth, giving up two more runs. Another ex-Oriole, Jim Johnson, added to the score, and to his boos, by allowing a home run to Chris Davis in the top of the ninth. The top and middle of the Orioles lineup had an incredible night, with All-Star Adam Jones knocking in five runs, and Nick Markasis going 4 for 5, with batters 1 through 5 collecting 12 of Baltimore's 13 hits. Oakland inflicted minor damage against starting pitcher Wei-Yin Chen, scoring three runs. Chen had only allowed three runs in his four previous starts against the A's. Brandon Moss crushed his 22nd homer to take sole possession of the team lead, while Jed Lowrie drove in three runs. There was a minor rally when Moss and Vogt got on base in the bottom of the ninth, almost getting the tying run to the plate, however, Zach Britton struck out Nick Punto to end the game.After the game, manager Bob Melvin still expressed confidence in scuffling pitchers Hammel and Johnson, saying Johnson is still "struggling to be consistent". He also gave kudos to the top of Baltimore's lineup, as well as to Jed Lowrie, who he praised for his versatility in the A's deep batting order. When asked if it was frustrating to lose in front of a capacity crowd, Melvin acknowledged some disappointment, saying "it couldn't be helped", but pointed out the A's aggressiveness in almost having the tying run come to the plate in the ninth.
NOTES AND THOUGHTS:
- In 1989, a powerhouse Oakland A's team only won 7 of 12 games versus a surprising Orioles team, with Baltimore coming off of a historically bad 1988 season.
- The Athletics had a day off July 19, 1989... but won on both the 18th and the 20th of July.
- New favorite A's villain Manny Machado again received a healthy dose of boos during the game, with a roar from the crowd after striking out to Ryan Cook in the seventh.
- The visiting Orioles also are celebrating an anniversary this season: their 60th anniversary in Baltimore after moving from St. Louis as the Browns before the 1954 season.
- Absent in person and on video from the 1989 team: Ron Hassey, Gene Nelson, and Stan Javier.