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Game #133: Royals rock Roark, win 6-4

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MLB: Oakland Athletics at Kansas City Royals
Oakland Athletics second baseman Jurickson Profar (23) gets the force out on Kansas City Royals second baseman Whit Merrifield (15) at second base in the third inning at Kauffman Stadium. 
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The Oakland Athletics (76-56) fell to the Kansas City Royals (47-87) in this evening’s third contest of a four game series at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City. The Royals’ first and third basemen, Ryan O’Hearn and Hunter Dozier, both homered and went 2-for-4 to lead their team against struggling A’s pitching and take a 6-4 win.

Game Thread #1 | Game Thread #2

The A’s jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first. Shortstop Marcus Semien began the scoring festivities on just the second pitch of the game with a leadoff home run to his usual spot over the left field wall, his 24th bomb of the season.

Royals starting pitcher Jakob Junis struck out right fielder Robbie Grossman after yielding the Semien dinger, but then pitched his way into a jam that started with a fastball that hit the left side of third baseman Matt Chapman’s helmet. Chapman got the blessing to take first from A’s trainer Nick Paparesta, but he left the game in the second inning. First baseman Matt Olson and center fielder Mark Canha singled and walked, respectively, to load the bases for rookie left fielder Seth Brown, who got his second big league RBI on a fielder’s choice that plated Chapman.

A’s starter Tanner Roark began strong with a 1-2-3 bottom of the first and he pitched around a pair of baserunners in the second, but got into trouble in the third inning. Roark hit Royals second baseman Whit Merrifield and gave up a two run homer to Hunter Dozier to tie the game. Roark also hit left fielder Alex Gordon in the third, his 12th such offense on the season.

The A’s put up another pair in the fifth but the Royals would catch up again before the bullpens took over. Mark Canha did the damage for the A’s, giving the team its second two-run blast of the game.

However, the Royals got one back in the fifth on an RBI double from designated hitter Jorge Soler, and then tied it up in the sixth with a home run from first baseman Ryan O’Hearn.

Both teams’ starting pitchers exited after six innings. Roark was a bit less crisp than he’s generally been of late: all told, he allowed four runs on five hits and one base on balls to go along with the two free passes he gave away by hitting Merrifield and Gordon. Just 53 of Tanner’s 92 total pitches were strikes. Junis exhibited better control against A’s batters, but ultimately fared similarly to his counterpart, allowing the A’s quartet of runs on seven hits, one base on balls, and one hit batter; 66 of his 99 pitches were strikes.

The Royals took their first lead of the series in the bottom of the seventh. Blake Treinen came out in relief of Roark and his struggles continued: last year’s bullpen ace gave up three hits and a walk while failing to record a single out. Blake handed off to lefty Jake Diekman after loading the bases and giving up an RBI single to Dozier. Diekman ended the inning quickly from there, but one more run would score, also charged to Treinen, when Merrifield reached home from third on a 4-6-3 double play to give the Royals a 6-4 advantage.

The Royals’ two runs in the seventh were enough to secure their first win of the series as the Kansas City bullpen carved through A’s bats in the final three innings. Royals relievers Tim Hill and Ian Kennedy combined for five strikeouts and allowed just two baserunners as Hill got the win, Kennedy got the save, and the Royals got to skip the bottom of the ninth and head to the clubhouse to celebrate.

The A’s remain up 2-1 in the series but must win tomorrow’s finale to take it. Chris Bassitt (9-5, 3.59 ERA) will face Glenn Sparkman (3-9, 5.52 ERA) in the A’s bid to end the series on a positive note before heading to the Bronx for three games against the Yankees.

Meanwhile, the A’s retain possession of the second AL Wild Card spot for now, as the Tampa Bay Rays lost to Houston to stay a game behind Oakland in the postseason hunt. The Cleveland Indians won in Detroit this evening to increase their lead over the A’s for the first Wild Card spot to 1.5 games.

Fütnōtes

  • OMGWTFCHAPPIE! A’s fans were forced to contemplate the unthinkable as Chapman made a delayed exit from tonight’s game. While a final assessment has yet to be delivered, I’m choosing to be optimistic: early reports indicate that Matt has not suffered a concussion, and given that he was able to take the field for an inning and stand for another at-bat, the more purely physical impacts of the HBP are hopefully negligible.
  • Make some Neuse. Sheldon Neuse suits up in green and gold tomorrow. Normally a third baseman, more recently he’s been preparing with the Aviators to help fill the A’s gap at second base since Jurickson Profar and Franklin Barreto have struggled this season.
  • How is babby formed? Khris Davis can probably tell you. He’s off on paternity leave for his second time as an Athletic. Davis’s empty roster spot has made way for Neuse’s debut. Wishing the best for Khris and his family. Apparently, a baby Bassitt could arrive any day, too!