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Game #121: A’s fight to the end but fall short 7-6

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Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The Oakland A’s nearly earned their second comeback win in under 24 hours, but the Kansas City Royals held on this time for a 7-6 victory Wednesday afternoon. Once again the A’s never gave up in this game, even down to their 27th out — and arguably their 28th. Unfortunately, the Royals did just enough to wrap up the series win.

*** Click here to revisit today’s Game Thread! ***

As they did in every game of this series, Kansas City jumped out to an early lead. Oakland starter Paul Blackburn didn’t get hit all that hard, but his control was not at its best. A few uncharacteristic walks, combined with the Royals’ usual allotment of pesky singles, led to some long rallies and a handful of runs.

Blackburn managed to tiptoe around most of the trouble in the first three innings, with seven baserunners adding up to just one run, and thanks to a homer by Marcus Semien the A’s actually led 2-1. However, Kansas City broke through in the 4th. A pair of infield singles tied the game because Royals (see note at end of recap), and then Lorenzo Cain finally came up with KC’s big hit by launching a dinger to straightaway center for a 4-2 lead. With his pitch count at 97, Blackburn’s day was done: 4 ip, 4 ER, 2 Ks, 3 BB, 1 HR, 8 hits. Here’s Semien’s long ball:

The Royals extended the lead to 5-2 in the 5th, with a quick small-ball rally against reliever Simon Castro. But the A’s answered back in the bottom half — with two runners in scoring position, Jed Lowrie came up with the clutch single to plate them both and cut the deficit to 5-4. Oakland followed with the shutdown inning, courtesy of new acquisition Chris Hatcher; the right-hander recorded a strikeout (Hosmer) and two flyouts to the warning track (yikes).

That brings us to the 8th inning. Last night we were treated to a total of 11 runs in an absolutely wild seesaw frame, and while today’s encore didn’t live up to that billing it was still exciting. Kansas City added a run with their usual antics — walk, steal, HBP, single, this time against Ryan Dull. But this new A’s lineup, with all its rookie additions, is quickly showing us it simply doesn’t give up. Facing Brandon Maurer, who spent most of this year as a closer in San Diego, they got a runner on for Matt Chapman and then watched some fireworks.

Tie game, and the A’s entered the 9th with new life. However, it took the Royals only two batters to regain the lead off Blake Treinen, with a double by Alcides Escobar and a single by Alex Gordon.

One last chance. The first two Oakland batters were retired, but Ryon Healy managed to beat out an infield single to shortstop to keep the contest alive. Replay suggested the throw probably beat him, by fractions of a step, but it was apparently too close to overturn and the A’s got a gift. They quickly got another one when a wild pitch sent the pinch-runner (and potential tying run) to second base, but Chad Pinder struck out to end it. Royals win, 7-6.

One more note, from above: In the 4th, when KC scored on a pair of infield hits, the reason was that Matt Chapman made an error (presumably in an effort to blend in with us humans more realistically?). Escobar bunted for a hit, and Chapman tried to make an impossible throw that wouldn’t have beaten him anyway. The throw went into foul territory for a Coliseum triple, and the next hit scored him. None of it mattered in the end because Cain’s homer would probably have cleaned everything up anyway, but it’s a learning moment for Chapman about when to just hold the ball rather than risk further damage.

The A’s have Thursday off, and then pick up again on Friday in Houston at 5:10 p.m. The opener features Sean Manaea vs. Dallas Keuchel.