OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Frankie Montas allowed two hits over six innings and the Oakland Athletics threw out two runners at the plate before holding off the Baltimore Orioles 5-1 in their home opener Monday night.
A crowd of 17,503 weathered chilly temperatures to view a matchup between the teams with the two lowest payrolls in the major leagues. Attendance was the lowest for an A’s home opener without COVID-19 restrictions in at least 30 years.
Montas (2-1) struck out five and walked two for his second straight win. He retired 12 of his first 13 batters and did not allow a hit until the fifth inning, giving A’s rookie manager Mark Kotsay his first win at the Coliseum since taking over for Bob Melvin during the offseason.
“Location-wise I was hitting my spots, especially with my fastball,” Montas said. “I feel like that opened the door to my breaking stuff. Tonight, everything … it was just about location.”
The A’s scored four unearned runs in the sixth after Orioles third baseman Ramón Urías and second baseman Rougned Odor made errors. Sheldon Nuese and Cristian Pache had RBI singles in the inning.
Austin Hays had an RBI double for Baltimore, and Urías added two hits.
The Orioles loaded the bases with two outs in the ninth before Dany Jimenez struck out pinch-hitter Ryan McKenna on a checked swing, dropping McKenna to 0 for 5 this year.
“We have some young players but I think we have a good mix,” Kotsay said. “The energy is good. The focus is every day we go out to win.”
Oakland’s defense repeatedly came up big.
Baltimore’s Jorge Mateo doubled leading off the sixth and moved to third on a groundout but was thrown out sliding into home by first baseman Billy McKinney. A’s catcher Sean Murphy then made a strong play to chase down Anthony Santander’s foul pop near Oakland’s dugout.
After the Orioles put runners on the corners with one out in the seventh, right fielder Seth Brown – whose failed diving attempt in the fifth led to Baltimore’s first hit – caught Hays’ fly ball and then made a one-hop throw to the plate to get Trey Mancini sliding into home. McKinney nearly cut off the throw before letting it go through.
“I’m trying to put it through him as close as I can to put it on line so we could have a play at home,” Brown said. “(McKinney) was in perfect position and obviously Murphy making a great play at home plate.”
The A’s returned to the Coliseum after a season-opening 10-game road trip. They were greeted by a vocal crowd that watched the A’s win their home opener for the fifth time in 11 seasons.
Montas faced one over the minimum before walking Odor in the fifth. Hays followed with a two-out RBI double that deflected off Brown’s glove.
Baltimore starter Spenser Watkins, who lasted only three innings in his previous start, was much more crisp and allowed one run and two hits in five innings.
Joey Krehbiel (1-1) gave up one hit and three unearned runs in the fifth.
A’S PLACE 6 ON COVID-19 LIST
The A’s added six players to the COVID-19 injured list – infielders Jed Lowrie and Chad Pinder, relievers A.J. Puk, Lou Trivino and Kirby Snead, and catcher Austin Allen. Outfielder Stephen Piscotty was placed on the list Friday.
Pitcher Sam Selman and infielders Nick Allen and Christian Lopes were added to the A’s active roster as substitute players.
The A’s ($48 million) and Orioles ($58 million) have a combined payroll that is lower than 21 of the other 28 teams.
UNITED FOR NOW
Prior to the game, A’s president Dave Kaval and Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf joined together to raise the A’s flag just outside the south entrance to the Coliseum. Both have been supportive of efforts to get a proposed 35,000-seat waterfront stadium built for the team near downtown Oakland, although the A’s also have explored several potential sites in Las Vegas.
Athletics: RHP James Kaprielian (inflamed right AC joint) will make a rehab start with Triple-A Las Vegas on Wednesday.
A’s LHP Cole Irvin (1-1, 5.40 ERA) makes his third start of the season Tuesday night. Irvin won last season in his only career appearance against Baltimore. Orioles RHP Chris Ellis was in Oakland, in position to be added to the roster to start.
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