The Oakland A’s beat the Kansas City Royals 19-4 on Monday. It was an enormous offensive showing, big enough to be worth a closer look. Here are the 19 best things about the onslaught.
1. Season high
The 19 runs were the most the A’s have scored in a game this season. Their next-highest came back in May, when they dropped 17 on the Tigers. It’s also tied for second in the entire majors this year, along with seven other instances. The leader is Houston, who beat the Orioles 23-2 a couple weeks ago.
2. Everyone gets a hit!
Oakland’s 22 hits were also a season high, and everyone in the starting lineup had at least one. In fact, everyone had at least two except for Robbie Grossman, who made up for it by also drawing a walk, so everyone reached base at least twice. Josh Phegley led the way in this department by going 4-for-5 with a walk, for a total of five times on base. Overall the A’s hit a dozen balls with exit velocity over 100 mph.
3. Everyone scores a run!
In addition to all those hits, everyone in the starting lineup scored at least one run. Seven players scored at least twice, and Phegley, Khris Davis, and Jurickson Profar each scored three times. That led to this impressive team record, via A’s info manager Mike Selleck: “The A’s had five players with at least two hits, two RBI and two runs scored tonight. The only other time that happened in Oakland history was June 18, 2000, also at Kansas City.”
And the two players who didn’t score twice? Ironically, it was the first and second hitters in the order, Grossman and leadoff man Marcus Semien. However, Semien has an excuse, because he was busy driving in everyone else ...
4. Semien collects 7 RBI
Marcus Semien is having a breakout season at the plate, and it continued on Monday. The shortstop grounded out to lead off the game, but he came up again in the 2nd inning with the bases loaded and launched a triple to right knock them all in.
He got another chance in the 3rd inning, and this time he smoked it into the seats in left for a three-run homer.
He came up empty in his next couple at-bats, but then in the 8th he had a runner on third and brought him home with a groundout. He finished 2-for-6 with a homer, triple, and 7 RBI.
And to be clear, this was not just Semien racking up stats in garbage time. Semien’s onslaught is what sent the game to garbage time. It was 2-0 when he cleared the bases with his triple, and it was still a ballgame when he homered. His clutch hits were primarily responsible for putting it out of reach in the first place.
5. Semien records
He had such a great game that he gets a second section, to point out a couple of team records. First, according to Elias Sports Bureau, he’s the first leadoff hitter in A’s history to drive in seven runs in a game, dating back to 1920 when it became an official stat. No other leadoff hitter in MLB has done it this year, with the last being Matt Carpenter of the Cardinals in July 2018.
The second record, according to MLB, is that he’s only the second A’s shortstop to drive in seven in a game. The other is Miguel Tejada in 2001, when he posted eight against the Rangers in a three-homer game against former teammate Kenny Rogers.
However, seven is not the A’s overall season-high for RBI. That still belongs to Josh Phegley’s 8 RBI game back in May.
6. Semien on MLB tonight
You know it’s a big deal when even MLB Network notices the A’s. Here’s Semien talking about his amazing night.
Even Harold Reynolds says something good in this clip, with a solid joke about Rickey: “Next time you see Rickey when you go back to Oakland, you tell him, ‘That’s the most in history by a leadoff hitter. I’m the greatest of all time!’”
7. Box score
In all its glory.
And how about that 8-for-20 with runners in scoring position?
8. MLB debut
Even before the game began and the runs started flowing, there was already some intrigue around this one. That’s because the A’s called up a new player, Seth Brown, to make his MLB debut in place of injured RF Stephen Piscotty. Brown has never been a top prospect, but he wouldn’t stop mashing the ball in Triple-A, forcing his way into a chance in the majors.
The lefty wasted no time notching his first MLB hit. In his very first plate appearance, he popped a flare into shallow left that landed for a lucky single. He then followed it up in his next at-bat, with a liner to left for a proper, clean single. Here are both hits:
Brown was retired his next four times up, but he still finished the day 2-for-6, and naturally scored both times on base. Welcome to the Show, Seth!
9. Bottom of the lineup explodes
When the A’s scored 17 against the Tigers in May, the bottom third of the order went 8-for-14 with 6 RBI. They did even better this time, at 9-for-14 with 7 RBI.
The trio this time was Davis (3 hits), Profar (2 hits), and Phegley (4 hits), with homers by Khrush and Profar. They also added four walks, including two by Profar. This is the group that set the table for Semien to get all those ribbies, and together they scored nine runs.
10. Chapman hits 30
With the A’s clinging to a tight 15-3 lead in the 7th inning, they were searching for that one last insurance run they needed to really put the game out of reach. Up stepped Chaptain America, delivering a homer to make it an even 16.
This is Matt Chapman’s first time reaching 30 homers, after finishing with 24 last year. He’s also the third 3B in A’s franchise history to reach that mark, joining Sal Bando (31 in 1969) and Eric Chavez (32 in 2001, then 34 in 2002). Josh Donaldson peaked at 29 in 2014. Chapman only needs five more dingers to set the A’s all-time 3B record.
He also joins a select club of Oakland hitters with 30 homers and 30 doubles in the same season (Tejada, Canseco, Chavez, Giambi, Reggie, Berroa).
11. Position players pitching
Of course, there’s one little asterisk to put on Chapman’s 30th tater. He hit it off Alex Gordon, who’s normally a left fielder.
We’re used to seeing a position player come in to pitch in a blowout scenario, usually in the 9th inning. But this game got so out of hand so quickly that the Royals used position players for the final three innings.
Gordon came in to open the 7th, and he recorded four outs. It took him 10 batters, though, with a walk and five hits along the way to let three more runs through. Utility infielder Humberto Arteaga came in to relieve him and got the final five outs, but not before serving up a homer to Khrush.
12. Royal pitching woes
Looking at the rest of the pitching line, the Royals used a total of six pitchers, and all of them recorded exactly four or five outs. Starter Brad Keller was knocked out in the 2nd inning, and relieved by Jorge Lopez, which led to a good ol’ baseball coincidence:
Shortest start by a KC hurler since Jorge Lopez lasted 1 inning on May 25 vs NYY in game 2 of DH.. he enters game for Keller who lasted 1.1 innings tonight— Vince Cotroneo (@vincebaseball) August 27, 2019
They replaced their second-shortest start of the season with the guy who made the shortest start. Bold strategy, Cotton, let’s see if it pays off. (It didn’t.)
13. Puk gets his soft landing
Top pitching prospect A.J. Puk got thrown right into the fire when the A’s called him up last week. His MLB debut came in the 8th inning with a slim two-run lead over the mighty Yankees. Then his next time out came with a one-run lead, one out, and the tying run on third base, with 53,000 fans there to see the Bay Bridge Series. Talk about pressure. And neither game went very well, as he faced four total batters and let three of them reach base, including two walks, and blew the lead against the Giants on a wild pitch.
The big lefty finally got his soft landing on Monday, though. With the A’s up a dozen, he got the chance to face a handful of hitters and find a rhythm without having to worry about holding a close lead. The result was two scoreless innings, with the first two strikeouts of his career and only two baserunners (a walk and a groundball single). Thanks to a double play, he faced just one batter over the minimum, finishing with 30 pitches.
Yep, that’ll do.
14. Bailey good again
Homer Bailey has now made eight starts for the A’s, and he’s been good six times. In this one he went six innings and allowed three runs, marking his fifth quality start in those eight tries (and he fell just one out short of a sixth against the Yankees). The A’s have won six of his eight starts, partly because of him being good in them, though of course in this case he just happened to be the guy on the mound when the lineup went ham.
Still, there’s one key stat in his line: Zero walks, in a game when there was no reason for him to nibble or pitch around anyone. He’s at 3 BB/9 this year and for his career overall, but with the big lead he just went after the opposing batters, as he should have. He gave up a bunch of hard contact, mostly from the 4th-6th innings, but who cares? His job at that point was just to eat some innings, not prevent runs (and yet he still did both).
15. A little help from Canha
In addition to all the offensive support, Bailey got some help on defense too. Out in center field, Mark Canha did his best Ramon Laureano impression, leaping at the wall to rob Bubba Starling of extra bases.
The still-frame photo is even more impressive.
Even Bailey was surprised it found a glove.
Homer even thought that ball was out pic.twitter.com/eOVOBOuSnk— A's on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) August 27, 2019
16. Player of the Week stays hot
On the other side of the ball, Canha was named AL Player of the Week on Monday, for his performance from Aug. 20-25. That spanned five games against the Yankees and Giants, during which he went 9-for-19 with four homers, a double, two walks, and 7 RBI. And he didn’t slow down in this one, going 3-for-6 with a pair of runs scored.
In August, Canha now has a line of .380/.449/.620, good for a 188 wRC+, with five homers.
17. New positions
When the A’s emptied their bench in the late innings, the subs got to play some different spots than usual. Chad Pinder saw his third game of the year at shortstop, where he’s now played seven innings. Catcher Chris Herrmann made his second appearance in left field, where he’s now clocked four innings. And Corban Joseph got his first MLB outing at third base, for the final three frames.
18. Royals selling
The A’s beat the Royals so bad that they’re just gonna go ahead and sell the team. The Athletic reported on Tuesday that owner David Glass is “discussing the sale of the club,” which he had not previously done publicly.
Obviously the sale has nothing to do with Monday’s game, but the timing sure is fun. It’s like the A’s beat them so hard that it broke Glass and he doesn’t want to play anymore.
19. Still three games left!
The Royals have the third-worst record in the majors at 46-86, and it showed on Monday. The best part, though? There are still three games left against them! KC has allowed the eighth-most runs-per-game this season, and now two of their better pitchers are on the A’s in Bailey and Jake Diekman. Can’t wait to see what Oakland does for an encore!
(And we don’t have to wait, because the next game already started a few minutes ago. Spoiler: The Royals walked in a run in the 1st inning. Hey, that’s the same way Monday’s scoring started, with two straight bases-loaded walks in the 2nd!)