The Oakland A’s punched a ticket to Poundtown on Saturday afternoon at the Coliseum.
The A’s launched three homers and banged out 14 hits in an 11-2 rout of the Kansas City Royals. The two Matts accounted for half of the hits on their own, including a homer for each.
Like the previous two games in this series, Oakland jumped onto the board first, but this time they never let their opponent back into the proceedings.
The A’s scored a quick run in the 1st inning, but had to wait until the 2nd for a crooked number. Two runners reached base, and Matt Chapman ripped a double to drive them both home. The 109.2 mph drive was nearly a homer, but didn’t quite get the necessary elevation to clear the wall.
Next up was Matt Olson, and he matched his teammate an RBI double of his own.
Just like that it was 4-0, and the Royals were pulling their starter from the game in the 2nd. But today the A’s didn’t rest on that early advantage, instead tacking on plenty of insurance.
The next run came in the 5th, courtesy of Elvis Andrus. The shortstop had the walk-off hit the night before, and in his first at-bat today he singled to lead off the rally in the 2nd inning. When he came up in the 5th he found two runners on with two out, and singled up the middle to drive one home.
In the 6th it was back to the Matt Show, as Chapman drilled a solo homer. Left field had denied him before, so this time he went to right field instead, at 107.1 mph exit velocity but with a slightly higher launch angle.
Olson followed with a 111.2 mph blast, but his stayed low for a single, and he was later stranded.
The Royals finally scored in the 8th inning, but it was only a brief blip as Oakland continued to pile on in the bottom of the frame. Outfielder Skye Bolt, making just his second start of the year, cracked his first career homer to straightaway center.
Skye Bolt joins the fun with his first major league home run pic.twitter.com/mD3rgeVxyt— Oakland A's (@Athletics) June 12, 2021
The rookie had struck out in each of his three previous trips to the plate and also made a miscue on defense (not ruled an error), and he was 0-for-8 since being called up by the A’s this month. But he took advantage of his final opportunity of the day, to the tune of 410 feet off former All-Star Wade Davis.
But back to the Matts. After Bolt’s dinger, Tony Kemp singled to reach base for the third time today out of the leadoff spot, and a moment later he would score for the third time. Chapman singled after him, and then Olson took his turn going yard, his 16th homer of the year to keep him firmly within the Top 10 sluggers in the majors. Oakland added one more on a sac fly by Chad Pinder to make it a 5-spot and push the score far out of reach.
When the dust settled, the two Matts combined to go 7-for-10 with 2 homers, 2 doubles, and 7 RBI out of the team’s 11 runs. Olson has been a monster all season, but it’s especially encouraging to see Chapman join him amid a tough campaign — and it’s Chappy’s second straight big day, after also collecting three hits and factoring into most of the club’s scoring in Friday’s victory.
While the Matts led the way, the rest of the lineup contributed too. Kemp and Seth Brown reached base thrice each, Mitch Moreland drove in the first run of the game, Pinder knocked in the last, Bolt homered, Andrus had two hits that were each part of scoring rallies, and Sean Murphy went hitless but still walked twice.
Rotation keeps rolling
The offense stole the headline with their outburst, but starting pitcher James Kaprielian was every bit as good.
For the third day in a row, Oakland’s starter kept the Royals off the board for the first six innings of the game. Twice Kaprielian ran into trouble, but both times he wriggled out, and all his other frames went 1-2-3.
In the 3rd, Kansas City got two on with one out. Kaprielian responded with a strikeout, but the runners put the pressure on with a double-steal. He was flustered long enough to issue a walk and load the bases, but he bore back down and induced a popout from Andrew Benintenti.
In the 4th, a one-out double got past Bolt in CF, helping the batter advance for a triple. A pair of walks loaded the bases, but then a shallow flyout wasn’t enough to score the runner from third, and a routine grounder ended it.
Nobody escapes every rally forever, and left-on-base percentage isn’t a sustainable skill, but Kaprielian’s ability to work out of trouble so far in his MLB career is still a positive sign for a rookie. He’s not wilting under pressure or giving in and delivering meatballs, and even when he mixes in some walks he still keeps focused and stays on his game. It won’t lead to a zero on the scoreboard 100% of the time, but it’s a good recipe for future success.
- Kaprielian: 6 ip, 0 runs, 7 Ks, 4 BB, 2 hits, 95 pitches, 84.6 mph EV
To be fair, he got an enormously generous strike zone from HP umpire Ted Barrett, and maybe the Royals would have squeezed out a run or two without that extra help. But off the top of my head, Kaprielian has been adept at getting calls on corners so far, and perhaps Murphy’s framing is helping too. Either way, this was a quality start.
James Kaprielian, Nasty 86mph Slider. pic.twitter.com/j7JzBtqys9— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) June 12, 2021
The 7th and 8th innings had been the A’s bugaboo on Thursday and Friday, but this time they came and went without too much issue. Jesús Luzardo kept Kansas City silent in the 7th, but allowed a two-run homer in the 8th, which at the time cut the lead to 6-2. But there was no further comeback attempt, and no blown save, just a comfortable non-shutout victory.
On Friday, a few slumping hitters carried the lineup in a close win. On Saturday they were joined by everybody else, and the result was a rout. They hit for power, they got on base, and with runners in scoring position they collected four hits and two sac flies. And at the center of it all was the Matts, exactly the stars who are supposed to be leading the charge. Next stop, Poundtown!