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Royals Give A's the Game, A's Try to Give it Back, Wuertz Refuses to Lose

In a wild effort today at the Coliseum, your Oakland A's took the rubber game of the series from the Royals in a close 4-3 affair that featured a meltdown from both sides before Michael Wuertz took over the game in the ninth. In a dashing bit of magic, Wuertz struck out the side, sending the A's to a series win and keeping them in the AL West hunt pending the outcome of this weekend's series against Texas.

Brett Anderson had a less-than-auspicious start to the first inning, as he surrendered a walk, a single, a stolen base, sac fly, and a RBI fielder's choice to put the A's in an early 2-0 hole, but he recovered nicely to pitch seven strong innings (allowing only three hits and the two runs overall) and collect his third win of the year.

The Royals starter, Sean O'Sullivan, three-hit the A's for the first five innings, as frustration mounted for A's fans everywhere. Add to that an inexplicable caught-stealing to end an inning by Jack Cust, and tension was at an all-time high in the game threads.

But then came the sixth--and magical--inning. With the A's down two runs, Pennington led off with a single and Crisp followed with a walk, bringing up Daric Barton with no outs. He ran the count to 2-0. Now I know some people think that when a team has an extreme inability to score runs (like the A's), one probably shouldn't be giving away extra outs to the other team, especially if the other team is the Royals, but that's crazytalk. I say, bunt! And Daric did. And Sean O'Sullivan couldn't make the play (to be fair, it was ruled a bunt single) and Pennington scored the first run of the game for the A's. Apparently, Mike Aviles felt left out, so he booted Suzuki's ground ball on the next play and the A's tied the game.

After Cust struck out (a familiar sight, since he had the hat trick today), Kouzmanoff picked up the hit that the A's were desperately searching for, in the form of a 2-RBI double. The A's would try to add on to the score in the seventh, but a failed safety squeeze bunt with Crisp on first and Pennington on third by (who else?) Daric Barton cost them the chance for an insurance run. The safety squeeze (as opposed to the suicide) has the runner waiting until the bunt is down before running, which kept Pennington out of the double play.

It initially looked like an awful call, since the ball was popped up, but once the call was explained, I actually thought it made more sense than Barton's sixth-inning bunt. If you want to steal a run from third, use someone who nearly always gets the bunt down, and Barton fits that bill. But I don't like the disturbing trend of the "automatic" bunt from Barton; I hate wasting outs.

Despite the fact that Breslow allowed a solo homerun in the eighth to bring the Royals within a run, the A's still had the game in the bag once Wuertz came in for the save. He absolutely blew away Butler, Guillen, and Ka'aihue to collect the game, and the series for the A's.

Now is the part where this NRAF is jealous of all of you Oakland-area A's fans, since believe it or not, there is a pennant race still going on at the Coliseum! If the A's sweep Texas this weekend, they are still in this race. Come cheer the A's on Friday night, or during the day Saturday or Sunday, and have a blast!

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