The Oakland A’s have been hot to begin the month of June, but they were cooled down for one night by an old teammate.
Former A’s pitcher Mike Minor tossed seven sparkling innings for the Kansas City Royals and Oakland fell 6-1 at the Coliseum, finding themselves on the wrong side of one frustrating rally followed by a late power show.
The home team never got anything going at the plate. They put a stray runner on base in the 2nd, 3rd, and 5th but never strung together any rallies. In the 4th inning Jed Lowrie connected for a solo homer, and that was the only time they even reached second base. Their final 13 batters were retired in order.
The team combined for three hits and a walk and also reached on an error, but one of those hits was thrown out trying to stretch out an extra base. Most of the work was done by Minor, who briefly wore the green-and-gold last season after a midsummer acquisition but departed over the winter as a free agent. The lefty struck out eight in his best performance of an otherwise mediocre year so far, and then two Royals relievers were perfect the rest of the way.
When Lowrie hit his homer, it gave the A’s a lead that they held until the 7th inning. That’s because Frankie Montas was on his game, matching Minor pitch for pitch.
Through the first six innings, Montas allowed just a pair of weak singles, one of them a lucky bloop popup and the other a shift-busting infield hit. The right-hander retired 13 straight at one point, just as Kansas City’s staff did to Oakland’s lineup, and he equaled Minor’s eight strikeouts.
But it all fell apart in the 7th inning, almost completely out of Montas’ control. The first batter hit a legit sharp single, followed by a strikeout. Next came a catcher’s interference, putting a free runner on and pushing the lead man to second base. Then a sharp grounder went toward third base, directly into the clutches of two-time Platinum Glover Matt Chapman, but this time Chapman clanked it.
I think Chapman coulda made this play ♂️ pic.twitter.com/0HOCJDqbjY— The Rickey Henderson of Blogs (@RickeyBlog) June 11, 2021
Normally he scoops the ball and runs to the bag in one fluid motion for a forceout, then fires across the diamond for a double play, and in this case that would have ended the inning right there. But he couldn’t quite dig it, and it blasted off his glove into no-man’s land, allowing a runner to score and everybody else to reach safely. Somehow the scorer ruled it a double instead of an error, just another statement on the shocking pointlessness of the error stat.
The next batter dribbled a 69 mph doinker up the middle, past a parade of diving A’s defenders, and two more runners scored.
- Montas: 6⅓ ip, 3 runs (2 earned), 8 Ks, 0 BB, 5 hits, 96 pitches, 90.0 mph EV
By all rights, this should have been seven shutout innings. But just as the breaks rolled the A’s way on Wednesday, they went to the opponent tonight. The loss counts in the standings, but Montas was good enough to win.
Kansas City added on against the bullpen, as Jesús Luzardo served up a pair of dingers for three more runs.
On the bright side, despite the key defensive miscues, there was also some nice glovework tonight. Chapman himself made a leaping grab to rob the fourth-hardest piece of contact of the game.
And fellow Gold Glover Matt Olson pulled one of his most signature moves, the glove flip to the pitcher.
Even the fans got in on the action!
There won’t be many more games this year that the A’s lose because of defense.
We just watched Oakland dominate for a week, but you can’t win ‘em all. Minor has given them trouble before and he’s still capable of a good night, and Chapman will usually make that play to keep the opponent off the board. Go get ‘em tomorrow.