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Game #13: A's lose late, 4-2 vs. Royals

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A's Bullpen can't hold-up Kazmir's strong start as the Royals get a late-inning win in a contentious game in Kansas City.

Lawrie keeps calm even after almost losing his head.
Lawrie keeps calm even after almost losing his head.
Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

First, can we talk about baseball?

Scott Kazmir was cruising today. After a double play quickly ended the third and a 1-2-3 fourth, Kazmir entered the fifth having given up only one hit, but gave up a lead-off double to Omar Infante to start his fifth frame. Erik Kratz hit a comebacker that Kazmir fielded, holding Infante at second. Christian Colon then got on base with an infield single that Marcus Semien made a nice play on to again hold Infante at second. What happened next can only be described as bizarre with both Infante and Ben Zobrist, neither of whom were involved in the play, leaving the game with injuries. Infante may have pulled a hamstring getting back to second base and Zobrist left with knee soreness. Orlando Calixte replaced Infante with Eric Sogard coming in to replace Zobrist.

Now with one out, man on first and second, with Jarrod Dyson at the plate Kazmir threw a ball in the dirt that got away from Josh Phegley, which allowed the two Royals runners to advance 90 feet. The play was scored a wild pitch, but Phegley should have put a glove on it. Dyson hit a bloop that landed inches foul, but had to settle for a grounder that scored Calixte from third. If Phegley had blocked the wild pitch we are looking at a double play to end the inning. Instead, the Royals got a cheap run on yet another mistake by the A's in the field this season.

At this point the A's were still winning 2-1 because the team had been able to put runs on the board in the third and fifth innings. In the third, Zobrist came to the plate with Semien on second and Mark Canha on first with one out. Oddly, Zobrist attempted to bunt, but fortuitously failed, because he then singled up the middle to score Semien. Unfortunately, the throw in from center field was so bad that the Royals catcher was able to ignore Semien crossing the plate and gun down Zobrist attempting second base. The fifth saw the A's sorta play small-ball as Canha singled, then stole second base before Zobrist singled him home for his second RBI of the game. In the midst of all this, Gentry was failing miserably at the plate and Sam Fuld mercifully pinch-hit for him in the seventh.

That brings us to the eighth inning of what was becoming a fairly pedestrian game, but unfortunately, this is where we need to stop talking about baseball to focus on the extracurricular activities that will dominate today's storyline.

Way back in the top of the first Lorenzo Cain came to bat with two outs. Kazmir threw a pitch in the dirt that hit Cain's foot. The pitch did not look intentional, but Royals Manager Ned Yost was none-too-pleased and got himself ejected as benches were warned. For the Royals, Brett Lawrie's plunking on Saturday buried the hatchet between the two clubs, but now the Royals felt like the A's were re-opening Friday night's wound, which would now fester throughout this close game. The Kansas City fans certainly agreed that revenge was necessary as they yelled at Royals starter Dan Duffy to hit Lawrie when he came to the plate in the top of the second.

But emotions seemed to calm during the course of the next six innings. As the A's came to bat in the top of the eighth the game was still a close 2-1 affair, but Kazmir's performance had made the game rather ho-hum. Then with two outs in the top of the eighth Lawrie came to the plate to another chorus of boos from the Kansas City fans. If they were calling for blood, they almost got their wish as Kelvin Herrera threw a 100 mph fastball behind Lawrie that incited raucous cheers from the Sunday crowd. Lawrie was seething, but managed to stay relatively calm as Herrera (ejected of course) screamed at Lawrie and pointed at his head. No two-ways about it, this was classic head hunting by Herrera and the crowd was in ecstasy as more Royals were ejected. Much to the chagrin of the harried home plate umpire Jim Joyce, Lawrie was in fact not hit by Herrera's missile and had to step back in the box to finish his at-bat. He weakly popped out to end the inning allowing everyone to take a much needed breath.

The day's excitement should have ended there, but in contravention to the laws of karma and the golden rule, the Royals were rewarded for their childish violence. Kazmir was still in the game, but walked Paulo Orlando to start the bottom of the eighth. He then induced Mike Moustakas to ground out, but Orlando advanced to second. Bob Melvin then made the questionable call to bring in Eric O'Flaherty to face Lorenzo Cain. Let me remind you that O'Flaherty is a lefty while Cain is a right-handed batter. Feel free to accuse me of ignorance, but when a reliever is brought in to face a right-handed batter, isn't that reliever typically right handed? At any rate, Cain doubled to left-center on a ball that Canha may have misjudged off the bat. The score is now tied 2-2 and A's fans everywhere are collectively cursing the 2015 bullpen. To cement the blown save, O'Flaherty walked the lefty Eric Hosmer before giving up a hard hit double off of the center field wall to the switch-hitting Kendrys Morales. It's now 4-2 Royals with mischief firmly rewarded.

Reddick, Semien, and Fuld went down meekly in the ninth giving the game and the series win to the Royals. It's rare for an April game to hurt, but this one is heartbreaking. In case you're curious, the Royals come to town for a weekend series June 26-28.

And that's it for my first Athletics Nation Game Thread. This is a game I will always remember but quickly want to forget.

Coming up tomorrow the A's are in Anaheim where, I believe, fellow rookie travdog6 will be handling the Game Thread duties.