The cricket in Kansas City, the one that I'm assuming is a mascot of some sort chirping into a bullhorn from the sound of it, probably was not very pleased with the A's offensive breakout against the red-hot Royals in tonight's game. While Jon Lester was mowing down the Royals' hitters, the A's were taking batting practice off Jeremy Guthrie. This was not the shutout he was looking for.
The lone A's starter without a hit was Derek Norris, and Sogard only had one, but the rest of the team had multiple hits in this one. Callaspo, Vogt and Jaso had two hits apiece, Fuld, Reddick and Donaldson (with two of his as home runs) had three each, and Brandon Moss recorded four, but none as fun as the bunt he dropped against the shift.
Believe it or not, despite the early 6-0 lead, there was a moment in this game as late as the fifth and sixth inning when the game was in a bit of peril. The A's scored one in the first (and should have been more), two in the third, one in the fourth, and two in the fifth, building a 6-0 lead, but Lester gave up an uncharacteristic three runs in the fifth and a lead-off single in the sixth before finishing the inning strong and exiting the game, probably due to the amount of pitches he threw in his complete game last week. Three runs notwithstanding, Lester struck out nine Royals in his six innings, and no one is complaining.
Fuld and Jaso singled to start the game for the A's, nearly matching the team's entire offensive output of last night. Donaldson grounded out to keep runners on first and second, right before Moss hit a ringing double. Jaso scored easily, but a perfect relay by the Royals nabbed Donaldson at home, trying to score the second run. I'm not completely against this move. The A's have had precious little offensive output as of late, and I can't blame them for pushing a little bit when they had the chance.
Fuld once again started the offense in the third inning with one out as he hustled down the line and reached first (and ultimately second) base thanks to a hasty throwing error by the Royals. With two outs, Donaldson singled him in for the A's third run, and Moss singled him in for the third. Vogt and Reddick got into it in the fourth, as they led off the inning with singles of their own to put runners on first and third. Callaspo's double-play scored the fourth run for the A's.
The Fuld/Jaso combination was hot in the fifth, as well. They led off the inning with singles, putting runners at first and third yet again. Donaldson would bring one in on his sac fly, bringing up Brandon Moss. Against a shift. The one where the left side was woefully underprotected. And he bunted. HE BUNTED! And it was as gorgeous as you could ever imagine. Go watch it. It happily rolled down the third base grass, laughing all the way, as Moss strolled to first with yet another hit. I can't be positive, but I think I heard it heckling Bo Porter as it skipped merrily along the grass. Stephen "IBISV" singled in the A's sixth run, allowing the A's--and Lester--to survive the fifth, and the runs (and one error) that came along with it. A four-pitch walk, double, sac fly, infield hit, throwing error, and doubled plated three very quick runs for the Royals, but Lester fought to end the rally there.
He also allowed a lead-off hit in the sixth, still leading just 6-3, but a beautiful double-play behind the strong arms of Donaldson and Callaspo turned the Royals away again, and the A's ran away and hid. Donaldson homered to give the A's the 7-3 advantage, and Ryan Cook breezed through the Royals in his seventh inning.
The A's would do real damage in the eighth as a Reddick single, a Callaspo double, and a Sogard single scored two more. Jonny Gomes notched a sac fly for the A's 10th run, and another Donaldson home run made it 11. The A's got their 19th and 20th hit in the ninth inning, a footnote to be sure, but it's worth pointing out that up 11-3, Josh Reddick was running hard enough to beat out an infield hit because that's how he plays.
Dan Otero pitched both the 8th and 9th, in a near-perfect outing to shut down the win for the A's and Lester, and give the A's the four-game lead to put pressure on the Angels. They are currently down 1-0 to the Phillies in Anaheim in the sixth, if you're not quite done with baseball for the evening.
So the A's get their 73rd win of the season to go along with their run differential of +175, and even the series with the Royals as Kazmir takes the mound tomorrow night. We'll see you back here with all the action with your host, Nico.