It was a much tamer night in Kansas City as the A’s only managed carry on their offensive onslaught from the previous game for the first two innings.
While there was early promise of another blowout, the game settled down in the 3rd. Some key defensive plays from Athletics both new and old, and solid bullpen pitching helped keep the Royals down as the Oakland squad took another win in Kauffman Stadium
Marcus Semien started off the A’s night with an infield hit, legging out the single as Nicky Lopez’s throw from the ground took a few hops to get to first base. Chappy struck out swinging at a low cutter, and Olson did the same swinging through a curveball below the zone. Mark Canha hit a laser straight to Royals third baseman Cheslor Cuthbert, and Cuthbert was not able to hold on, moving Semien up Canha reached on the error. Khris Davis followed that up with a tapper that rolled slowly parallel to the third base line, and by the time Montgomery got to the ball there was no play to be made and the bases were loaded. Trouble started for the Royals just the same as it did last night, as Chad Pinder held off as he got pitched around and Pinder ended up getting walked to bring in the first A’s run. With Montgomery throwing a pair of strikes at the very top and bottom of the zone, Profar faced a full count, and while he teased bringing home some runs, Jurickson’s fly ball ended up in Bubba Starling’s glove in centre field.
Whit Merrifield took off against Mike Fiers with a single to the gap in left, leading off the Royals half of the inning. Soler hit a towering pop up to the foul ground in right, as Profar won the race between himself, Olson, and Pinder to catch it. Hunter Dozier hit a fly to Pinder in right, but Phegley threw out Merrifield on an attempted steal to end the inning only a single pitch into Alex Gordon’s at bat. Mike Fiers was out of the 1st with only 7 pitches thrown.
Fresh call-up Seth Brown started off the 2nd with a big swinging strikeout on a low change up. Phegley continued his offensive prowess against the Royals with a a solid hit to the right field corner for a double. Semien nailed the ball to the gap in right for a single, and as Phegley came to the plate to score, Merrifield’s throw was way high and Marcus moved to second. Marcus tried to take third, but a bad jump on the first pitch to Chapman meant that he got caught at the base for the second out. Chapman hit a liner to left, and managed to leg out a double by a step or two. Matt Olson swung through a cutter low in the zone to stop the offence, but Pheg’s legs did the trick in the 2nd to give the A’s their 10th inning in a row with a run scored.
Yesterday's pitcher Alex Gordon got his second shot at his first at bat, with the previous attempt being interrupted by Merrifield’s tagout. Gordon hit the first pitch he saw on a fly right to Canha in centre and the AB was over as quick as it started. Cheslor Cuthbert hit a promising liner to the gap in left, but Seth Brown made a phenomenal diving catch to make it a fly out rather than a extra base hit.
Ryan O’Hearn got lucky with an extra base hit though, as he hit a hooking liner that bounced right before the line and made its way deep into the right field foul territory. O’Hearn held up at second, not wanting to face Profar’s throw, but Fiers got three quick strikes against Bubba Starling, and the Royals attempts were over in the 2nd.
Canha was back up, and after a couple hard hit fouls he flew out to Gordon in left. KD hit his first pitch for a high fly to right, easily caught by Dozier. Pinder rolled a grounder up the left side of the infield and was thrown out easily as the A’s finally gave the Royals a break.
Viloria hit four fouls off of Fiers before tagging a ball into the gap for a leadoff single. Nicky Lopez followed that up with a grounder through the gap for a single. Merrifield got the third single in a row with a grounder to left field, but a fantastic throw by Seth Brown caught Viloria at the plate and kept the Royals off the board
Soler hit an infield grounder right to Chapman, and while the only play was a throw to first and the runners moved up, the second out was in the bag. Fiers and Gordon battled with a ton of fouls, but Fiers got out of what could have been a dangerous inning with Gordon popping out to Profar.
Profar started off the inning with a walk, but it was erased quickly off of a pretty great double play as Brown grounded straight to the shifted third baseman Cuthbert, and then a quick pair of throws cleared the bases. Phegley struck out after and the A’s were down without a fight for the second inning in a row.
Gordon bounced a grounder right to Profar for an easy first out, and Cuthbert hit the next pitch for a high liner caught by Canha. O’Hearn hit two long fouls to the wrong side of the pole, but the AB went on long enough for O’Hearn to be walked by Fiers. Starling hit a grounder past a diving Chapman for a single, as Seth Browns arm has proven to be one you shouldn't test. Fiers hit another long at bat against Viloria, and the A’s almost caught O’Hearn in a rundown, but the inning ended on Viloria swinging at a dropped third strike and being beat out by Phegley’s throw.
Semien had a quick fly out with a liner to left, and Chapman was called out watching a cutter come on. Olson got breezed by a pitch to get on base, but Canha grounded out to third and the A’s had another quick inning with minimal offence.
Fiers got Lopez with a good strikeout, getting the call on a mid-zone strikeout. Chapman did as Chapman does, beating out Merrifield’s attempt at a single by a step. Fiers hit the curve for a strikeout again, getting his first 1-2-3 inning of the game.
Khris led off the 6th seeing an 0-2 count turn into a walk four pitches later. Just the same as the last A’s walk, Pinder hit into a double play, getting caught at first as close as it could happen. Profar hit a grounder to Lopez, and leadoff hope turned into a quick half-inning.
Dozier led off with a liner to left, and Gordon drove him home with a deep double off the wall in right. Fiers got his first out of the inning by striking out Cuthbert swinging at a curveball. The long at bats continued for Fiers as O’Hearn went for a walk after a full count. That would be the end of the appearance for Fiers, as Bob brought in Yusmeiro Petit to try and get two more outs
Out number one came with Starling flying out to centre, and out number two came with Viloria swinging at a curveball. Petit completed what he was sent out to do, and the Royals only got a single run off of Fiers.
Montgomery started off the 7th, with Brown grounding out to Merrifield, and then Ned Yost turned to his bullpen for the rest of the game. Kevin McCarthy was the Royals reliever called on to take over the inning. Phegley grounded out giving another easy out to the Royals. Marcus had a called strike on what could have been ball four, and then swung on the next pitch to strike out.
Petit was back in with Nicky Lopez grounding up the line to Olson and Petit rushing in to confirm the out. Merrifield tried to drop a bunt down the third base line, but why would anyone try and do that against Matt Chapman? Chappy ran it down and blistered the ball to Oly, and then did it again running down Soler’s grounder in the gap to clear the inning.
Up against Scott Barlow, Chappy swung through a slider for a strikeout. Oly whiffed at another breaking ball, striking out for the third time today. Canha turned the inning around, resting his bat with a 5 pitch walk, but a speedy liner by Khris made it to Lopez and over to second base before Canha could make it in,
Joakim Soria began his appearance by striking out Dozier swinging. Gordon poked the ball over the infield to a liner to centre. Soria threw a nasty curve to strike out Cuthbert and with O’Hearn at a 1-2 count the Athletics caught Gordon in a rundown, tagged out due to a fantastic pick off by Soria.
Ian Kennedy got Pinder to fly out to centre on his second pitch, but pitched around Profar enough to walk him. Profar got tagged trying to steal second, and a pitch later Brown had swung at his third strike to end the A’s last opportunity to add insurance.
It was up to Hendriks to keep the A’s in the win column, up against O’Hearn getting a second chance at an at bat. Liam tossed a high fastball away and O’Hearn committed enough to his checked swing for a fast strikeout. Starling hit a high fly to right, giving an easy catch to Pinder, and leaving only one out for the Royals to work with. Viloria popped up to short, Hendriks got the save, and Mike Fiers and the A’s got another win.
Matt Chapman and Seth Brown’s defence was the highlight of the Athletics today, as not as much was happening over the plate for them. Both runs came off of less than bombastic hits, though Semien still showed some power. Both Matts were strikeout happy, each gifting three to the Royals staff, and Pinder Profar and Brown were quiet aside from a smattering of walks.
Mike Fiers made it through 5.1 innings, as he ended up getting into too much trouble with long at bats and runners on base in the 6th. Thankfully the bullpen held on to the win with the kind of appearances you like to see out of Petit and Soria, and a breezy save for Hendriks. If you average out the runs from the series, things look pretty consistent, but considering the 3 innings of one-run ball the bullpen made it through tonight, its a gift that the Athletics held onto this one.
Tonight was also the rare A’s win without a homer being hit by the green and gold. As exciting as dingers are, it is nice to see the A’s get by on pitching and some small ball.
With today’s win the Athletics move to 76 and 55. They now sit in sole possession of the second AL Wild Card. Tomorrow Tanner Roark faces off against Jakob Junis as the road series against the Royals continues.