BALTIMORE — These Oakland Athletics, they won't back down. Not when confronted by an angry opponent, not when they're dodging inside fastballs and definitely not when trailing late in the game.
Pinch-hitter Stephen Vogt singled in the tiebreaking run in the 11th inning, and the Athletics got home runs from Josh Donaldson and Derek Norris in a 4-3 victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Friday night.
It was the sixth win in seven games for the Athletics, who own the best record in the AL (38-23) and the best road record in the majors (21-11).
In the third inning, Donaldson tagged Manny Machado in the chest near third base for the third out, causing Machado to lose his balance and topple backward. Machado quickly stood up and yelled close-up at Donaldson, apparently questioning the force of the tag, and players from both sides crowded around the duo before Orioles manager Buck Showalter pulled Machado away.
“I just tried to tag the guy. I was walking over there to go pick his helmet up for him, then he jumps up and starts yelling at me,” Donaldson said. “I don't know what happened on his end, but I'm just trying to do my job and play the game of baseball.”
Machado said: “Right play, he made the right play, but I just didn't agree on the tag that he made on me and I just had to get up and confront him. You get in the heat of the moment and things start flying.”
That appeared to be the end of it, but with two outs and nobody on in the sixth inning, Orioles starter Wei-Yin Chen threw an inside pitch near Donaldson's chin. After retreating from the batter's box, Donaldson smiled knowingly. But he expressed anger minutes later, when Chen hit him with another inside fastball.
“I understand them pitching in. That's fine,” Donaldson said. “It was just on my hand. (Baltimore's) Nellie Cruz took one on the hand just the other day, and he doesn't seem too fond of that either.”