Despite only managing seven hits, the A's capitalized on sloppy Royals' defense and pounced on Greinke early to take the first game of the series by the score of 5-1.
The very first play of the game was a wild one, as Coco Crisp smacked a ball down the line that drew chalk (ish). Unfortunately, it also nearly smacked the umpire, as well, and he incorrectly called the foul ball. However, after an umpire meeting, Coco Crisp was awarded second base, something you don't see very often, and certainly not a break that usually goes the A's way. Could things be turning around in the second half?
Barton did NOT bunt Coco to third, but that's probably because he worked a 3-0 count and eventually walked. Suzuki would ground out to move Coco to third, staying out of the double-play. Cust--on the first pitch, no less!--hit a sac fly to score the first run of the game.
The Royals would tie the game on a double-play in their half of the first, but the A's would come right back with a leadoff double by Kouzmanoff in the second. A sac bunt combined with an error would score him.
Gio helped himself in the second inning, throwing a runner out at second on a weak ground ball, so when he allowed a hit after that, the runner only advanced to second instead of scoring.
The A's put the first two runners on in the third inning. No, that is not correct. Let me fix that. The Royals put two A's runners on in the third inning (botched double-play). And with runners on first and second, it's like waiting for a car crash after you hear the squeal of tires--when Barton is up, it virtually guarantees a bunt.
If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times; it's an idiotic baseball play and for our announcers to be praising the bunt every time it happens really makes me question how much the team in general understands about scoring multiple runs. Again and again, they take the bat out of our best hitter's hands and waste outs. Greinke was on the struggle-bus from the get-go tonight, and to help him out by GIVING him an out isn't smart baseball. And the A's almost paid dearly for it. Suzuki would walk to load the bases, bringing up Cust, who popped up for the second out. What did the bunt do? It put a runner on third, who didn't even score with less than two outs, and it cost the A's an out. It also could have left them with only a one-run lead against a struggling Greinke (who predictably would later settle down).
But this is a new start to the season. The baseball gods continued to smile down on the A's, as Kooooooouz came up big with a two-out, two-run single, staking the A's to a 4-1 lead. They would score another as Suzuki hustled to score just moments before Kouzmanoff was tagged out at third, trying to grab two bases on an Ellis single.
In stark contrast, the Royals, who would put their first two runners on in the fourth, did NOT bunt, and instead ended up with a single to load the bases with nobody out. But unlike Greinke, Gonzalez got the impossible job done. Despite everyone in the park looking first-pitch fastball, it was still popped up for the first out. Gonzalez K'd the next batter and a great play by Kouzmanoff and an even better tag by Barton at first (who tweaked his wrist on the play, but stayed in) got Gio out of the inning unscathed.
Mark Ellis made his first error in 52 games in the sixth inning on a routine ground ball, but his timing was impeccable; there were two outs, and Coco made a nice sliding catch for the third, so no damage was done.
Gio would finish with 7IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K in what was a pretty great pitching performance. He should get all the credit in the world for settling down and pitching well, even in trouble. Breslow pitched a perfect eighth (2 K's), and Wuertz a perfect ninth.
And the A's win! We'll see you tomorrow!
3 game series vs Royals @ Kauffman Stadium
|Sat 07/17||4:10 PM PDT|
|Sun 07/18||11:10 AM PDT|