Sean Murphy leads Athletics to victory against Orioles

Catcher Sean Murphy emerged from a deep slumber with a home run, a double, and a single. Outfielder Cristian Pache hammered his second homer as the Oakland Athletics defeated the Baltimore Orioles 6-4 on Thursday afternoon, their third victory in a four-game series.

Murphy, one of Oakland’s top stalwarts who hit 17 homers last season, started the series 1-for-11 before striking out with a runner in scoring position in the bottom of the first inning.

The star catcher then added a single to a two-run third, a two-run homer in the fifth, and an RBI double in a two-run seventh, boosting his average to .259 after a 3-for-4 day with three RBIs.

The second consecutive afternoon game attracted an estimated attendance of 4,429, bringing the series total to 10,880 viewers after Oakland’s home opener attracted 17,503 on Monday.

Murphy: Jack of all trades

Murphy not only created a good offensive day at the plate for the A’s, but he also played a key defensive role in a debatable call that resulted in the dismissal of Orioles first basemen Trey Mancini by the club’s manager Brandon Hyde.

Following the throw to first, Murphy tagged Mancini out as he went beyond the first base and reportedly moved toward the second, prompting the catcher to smartly tag him out. The Oakland catcher outperformed expectations early in the season but had fallen into a bit of an offensive slump in the series with Baltimore, going 0-for-10 into Thursday’s game.

“Never for one second did I think about going to second base,” said Mancini. “I just turned around to my left and walked back to the bag. If it had even crossed my mind to go to second base, I would have made sure that I got back to the bag quickly.

“I was very surprised and couldn’t believe it. And I want to apologize for the language I used and the way that I conveyed my message to Rob, but I still don’t agree with the call.”

Athletics second baseman Nick Allen complimented Murphy for being prepared when the unusual play happened.

“I had to get rid of the baseball and unfortunately it was just a little low and something where it was uncomfortable for Brownie,” said Allen. “Luckily Murph is so smart back there and he was right behind it and he knows how to play this game. He tagged him out and we got out of the inning. That was awesome.”

Allen got his first major-league double in the seventh inning, and Cristian Pache homered as the Athletics won three of four games in its first home series of the season.

Athletics pitcher Paul Blackburn surrendered one run on three hits, struck out four batters, and did not walk a player over five innings to earn his first career victory over the Orioles. It was the right-hander’s third appearance against the Orioles, and his first since two starts in 2017.

Dany Jiménez, the Athletics’ fifth reliever, closed out the game with his second save. Murphy smacked a two-run homer in the fifth inning and added an extra run with a double. Meanwhile, Austin Hays had an RBI double and a run-scoring single for the Orioles.