It wasn’t clean, but I’ll take it. Royals spoiling will always be satisfying.
Cotton Good, Deserved Better
Jharel Cotton had another very solid start which would have looked downright excellent if Oakland’s defense had not failed him on multiple occasions. Without some key mistakes, one of which was ruled an error and one of which was not, he could have lasted 6 or more innings while yielding 0 runs. However, he was instead denied the win and was hung with 1 “earned” run and 2 unearned through 5⅔ innings. Cotton wasn’t flawless, as he allowed baserunners in every inning except for the 5th. However, he did a good job of unclogging the basepaths and continued to show off his beautiful darting changeup.
Trouble struck in the 4th through no fault of Cotton’s. With two outs, the young pitcher gave up a loud double to center field before inducing a groundball from Alcides Escobar. Semien was in position to make a play and end the inning, but the ball clanked off his glove and the error put runners on the corners. After working around a few singles and walks in the first 3 innings, Cotton wasn’t able to work out of the jam. Escobar stole second base without a throw, then a ground ball trickled into left field to score both runners and put the Royals up 2-0. Both runs were on Semien, but he wouldn’t be the only one to let Cotton down.
After an excellent 5th inning, Stephen Vogt showed off his own bad defense. Salvador Perez singled, then advanced to second on a wild pitch after Vogt completely lost track of the ball. Escobar followed up with a single of his own to right field. Brett Eibner made a strong throw to get Perez out at home but Vogt just couldn’t catch the ball cleanly and Perez scored - he easily would have been out had Vogt caught the totally catchable ball. Cotton came out after 5⅔ with 103 pitches and Liam Hendriks came in. Vogt would botch ANOTHER catch for a wild pitch before Hendriks got the strikeout to end the inning.
Though it didn’t ultimately have much of an impact on the game, it’s worth noting that Chad Pinder also had a pretty bad defensive night. He double clutched on a ground ball in the 1st and just barely got the runner out - he seemed to delay his throw because Valencia was a little late in covering first base, but he was more or less planted by the time Pinder should have thrown. In the 8th inning we saw more erratic Pinder arm (that sounds dirty somehow), on a throw home to get the lead baserunner. Vogt had to dive forward and snow cone catch the ball to make the play. Then Pinder made another bad throw on a double play, with Valencia having to stretch to touch base.
So all in all, not a pretty night for Marcus Semien, Stephen Vogt, or Chad Pinder. I hope the first two buy Jharel Cotton dinner or something because he should have been taking a shutout into the 7th.
Oakland Offense: Better Late Than Never
The Oakland offense didn’t really do anything of note the first 4 innings besides break up the no-hitter, which looked like a real possibility after Royals pitcher Danny Duffy struck out 3 of the first 4 batters he faced.
In the 5th inning, Khris Davis came through with another booming home run to opposite field, his second of the series and 37th of the season. This puts him in a HR-hitting tie with Chris Davis of the Baltimore Orioles, because baseball. And he costs like 1/10 as much, because A’s.
Then a couple more innings of nothing. Through 7 innings, the A’s had hit into 3 double plays.
In the 8th inning, it was Kansas City’s turn to have a defensive breakdown. Duffy was still pitching when Ryon Healy hit another very deep home run for the A’s to make the score 3-2. Brett Eibner drew a walk and Duffy was pulled after 7⅓ innings. He gave up only 3 hits, though 2 were home runs. Matt Strahm came out to pitch for KC. Pinder hit a “single" to get the go-ahead run aboard, but really it was only due to a double-clutched throw by the unfortunately-named Cheslor Cuthbert at 3B. This mistake, apparently not an error for some arcane reason, proved to be more costly than either Vogts' or Semien’s.
Joakim Soria came out to pitch for the Royals and Yonder Alonso came in to pinch hit for Smolinski. He proved to be exactly the right man for the job - he hit a booming double to center field, driving in both runners to put the A’s up 4-3. Then Semien singled to left field and gold glover Alex Gordon flubbed the bounce, allowing Alonso to score from second base and put the A’s up 5-3.
What ensued was LOTS of booing from the crowd in KC, both after Soria gave up the double and after Gordon botched the play in left field. Ouch.
9th Inning Loin Girding
Things weren’t quite done after the dramatic 8th inning comeback. Ryan Madson came out to close the game for the A’s and much loin girding ensued. Jarrod Dyson singled and ultimately advanced to third on two cases of defensive indifference, while Whitt Merrifield walked to put runners on the corners with 2 outs. The ultra-fast Terrance Gore came out to pinch run for Merrifield. After what initially looked to be a game-ending rundown when Gore was caught between first and second base, the Royals ultimately scored a run on what was ruled a Ryan Madson balk. Indeed, Madson faked a throw to third before turning to catch Gore in the rundown, which is apparently a balk. The more you know. Eric Hosmer put up an incredibly long at-bat before chopping a ground ball to Alonso at first base, who then had to SPRINT to the bag to beat the runner and end the game. Phew.
Oakland plays the third game of the series tomorrow at the same time, 4:15 PT. I’ll be doing tomorrow’s game recap as well so I’ll see you all then!