Homer-happy A’s aim for improbable achievement against Orioles

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Oakland AthleticsJul 2, 2024; Oakland, California, USA; Oakland Athletics outfielder Brent Rooker (25) rounds the bases after hitting a home run against the Los Angeles Angels during the fourth inning at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

The Oakland Athletics can capture an improbable season-series win over the Baltimore Orioles when the clubs go head-to-head for the sixth and final time Sunday afternoon in Oakland, Calif.

The A’s hit five home runs — including one in a unique McCann vs. McCann showdown — en route to a 19-8 romp on Saturday. That gave the team with the second-worst record in the American League three victories in five matchups this season against the team with the second-best record.

When Kyle McCann, the Oakland backup catcher, homered off of James McCann, Baltimore’s backup catcher who was summoned to pitch the eighth inning, it gave the A’s 12 homers in five home games this week.

Oakland has gone 4-1 in those games, the loss coming 3-2 in the series opener vs. Baltimore on Friday.

All-Star hopeful Brent Rooker has homered in three of those five games to raise his team-leading season total to 18. Shea Langeliers, Lawrence Butler and Max Schuemann have hit two homers apiece, while McCann, Miguel Andujar and Tyler Nevin have one each.

Attempting to keep A’s hitters in the park on Sunday will be right-hander Grayson Rodriguez (10-3, 3.45 ERA), who has allowed just 10 homers in his 15 starts this season.

The 24-year-old got the Orioles’ six-game Western swing off to a fast start Tuesday with 6 1/3 shutout innings in a 2-0 win at Seattle. He has won five of his past six starts, including road efforts at Toronto, Tampa Bay and Houston.

Rodriguez did not face the A’s when they visited Baltimore in April, but he has pitched against them once before — in his second major league start in April 2023. He was tagged for five runs in 4 1/3 innings, but no home runs, in a game the Orioles rallied to win 12-8.

The Orioles could have many things on their mind Sunday, including exacting some revenge, breaking even in the season series and completing a winning trip. But a possible distraction looms with Major League Baseball set to announce full All-Star Game rosters Sunday afternoon.

Baltimore’s Gunnar Henderson and Adley Rutschman already were voted in as American League starters by the fans. A combination of player balloting and commissioner’s office selections will fill out the teams, with several Orioles — including Ryan O’Hearn, Ryan Mountcastle, Anthony Santander, Jordan Westburg, Corbin Burnes, Craig Kimbrel and even Rodriguez — considered candidates to earn a trip to Arlington, Texas, for the July 16 game.

Among the group, Mountcastle (12th home run Saturday), Westburg (3-for-9 with two doubles) and Kimbrel (save in Friday’s win) have helped their cases the most in the series.

“Everybody is very deserving,” Henderson said. “Hopefully all of them make it.”

Orioles hitters will get one final chance to pad their stats as they deal with A’s rookie right-hander Mitch Spence (5-4, 4.15 ERA), who recorded his second major league win when he pitched three no-hit innings to complete a 3-2 triumph at Baltimore on April 26. It was the only time he has faced the Orioles.

Like Rodriguez, the 26-year-old Spence is coming off a sharp performance on Tuesday, when he limited the Los Angeles Angels to one run in 5 1/3 innings in a 7-5 win.

–Field Level Media

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