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Game #67: The Matts keep slugging in 6-3 win

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The Matts combined for 3 homers against the Royals

MLB: Kansas City Royals at Oakland Athletics Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

The Oakland A’s star Matts were not very welcoming to their opponent this weekend.

The A’s got three more homers from their two corner infielders on Sunday, in a 6-3 victory over the Kansas City Royals to wrap up their four-game series at the Coliseum.

*** Click here to revisit today’s Game Thread! ***

The Matts had an enormous weekend at the plate. Yesterday they each homered and combined combined for seven hits and seven RBI, in a blowout win for Oakland. This afternoon they kept right on rolling.

In his first at-bat, just the A’s second batter of the 1st inning, Matt Chapman went yard for the second straight day.

Next up was Matt Olson, and he just missed Matt-to-Matt homers with his own 345-foot flyout to the warning track.

Oakland rallied for two more runs in the 2nd, while the Royals kept up with a couple of their own, and then in the 3rd inning Olson got another chance. This time he sent it 427 feet to avoid any doubt, 106.9 mph off the bat.

Olson came up again in the 5th and hit it even harder, 107.4 mph exit velocity at a slightly lower launch angle, and this one went 422 feet for his second dinger of the day.

Olson’s 18 homers are tied for third in the majors, surrounded by only the Three Juniors (Vlad, Tatis, Acuña), and he’s hit eight of them off lefties.

Chapman, who posted three hits each of the previous two days, went a total of 7-for-13 with five extra-base hits, five RBI, and only one strikeout over the last three games, all A’s victories.

In Oakland, the Matts walk all over you.

The rest of the A’s lineup chipped in as well. After Chapman’s early homer, the Royals tied it up in the top of the 2nd and Oakland answered right back. With a runner on first and two out, Elvis Andrus continued his own hot weekend with an RBI double, the hardest contact by either team today at 109.8 mph off the bat. Mark Canha followed with a single to drive Andrus home.

Over the last three games, Andrus is 5-for-13 with a walk-off hit Friday and a pair of doubles. He also nearly homered today, but his 392-foot flyout faded on the warning track.

That rally in the 2nd pushed the A’s back on top, and Olson’s dingers eventually gave them a 5-2 advantage. They got another run in the 6th, beginning with a leadoff walk from Tony Kemp, one of three free passes he drew today. Canha sent him all the way around with a double off the wall.

Another two hits for Canha gives him a 141 wRC+ for the year, which should put him in All-Star consideration. The three times on base for Kemp give him a .393 OBP, 15.9% walk rate, and 134 wRC+, as he’s playing like a legitimately dangerous sparkplug in this lineup.

On top of being productive, Kemp is always entertaining to watch.

Kemp was involved in one other weird play, offering another example of how thoroughly things have gone Oakland’s way the past week. In the 5th inning, Kansas City hit a grounder to first base that might have been a 3-6-3 double play. But it glanced off Olson’s glove at 1B and bounced over to Kemp at 2B, where Kemp made an impressive off-balance flip to Olson to salvage one out at first.

However, the call went to replay, and the video clearly showed Olson’s foot come off the bag. Not even close. Nevertheless, the umps upheld the obviously incorrect call, and once again the replay review system was an utter failure. The only weird thing was that it favored the A’s this time.

Screenshot from NBCS broadcast

That’s a toe off the bag, with the ball not yet settled in the back of the glove, and then the foot only pulled farther away after that. I can’t imagine what the umps saw or didn’t see here, but, thanks?

A few weeks ago, it seemed like every call and short hop and BABIP coin-flip was going against the A’s. When that’s happening, you’ll often hear about how these flukes even out over time for all teams. Well, here it is, between things like a controversial dropped catch on Wednesday, another questionable replay review in a one-run win on Friday, a favorable strike zone Saturday, and plenty of other little details.

Unflappable Hound

Being an ace isn’t just about throwing a shutout every time you pitch, but also battling through trouble when necessary. Chris Bassitt did a good job of that today.

In the 2nd inning, the Royals loaded the bases with two out, including a HBP that barely grazed a pinky finger. The next batter hit a liner right back up the middle that squarely pegged Bassitt, and the ball rolled back toward the plate. The disoriented pitcher recovered enough to flip the ball to the plate, hoping for a forceout at home, but the catcher had already left his post to go after the ball as well so the feed didn’t work. Everybody was safe and a bizarre run scored. BABIP!

Fortunately Bassitt was OK, as the ball hit him in a “padded spot” according to manager Bob Melvin. In case you aren’t sure what that means, Melvin elaborated: “It hit him in the butt.” The right-hander kept his composure and struck out the next batter looking to end the inning.

Kansas City added another run in the 3rd. Andrew Benintendi hit what appeared to be an opposite-field double to left, but it kept carrying just barely over the wall for a solo homer. They might have threatened further in the 5th, but the botched replay review call hampered what would have been two runners on with nobody out.

  • Bassitt: 5⅔ ip, 2 runs, 5 Ks, 3 BB, 2 HBP, 1 HR, 5 hits, 104 pitches, 91.7 mph EV

He didn’t quite finish the 6th inning, but he still did enough to win. He didn’t have his sharpest control and you can see it in his walks and HBPs and elevated pitch count, but he still hit plenty of spots along the way.

The bullpen breezed from there. Yusmeiro Petit finished the 6th and worked the 7th, allowing just a solo homer. Jake Diekman pitched the 8th, and Lou Trivino the 9th, and the final nine Royals batters were retired in order.

Heating up

The Matts are hot, and so is the rest of the infield, and Canha in the outfield, and the entire starting rotation. The A’s are pitching well, crushing dingers, and hitting with runners in scoring position. This is looking more like the first-place team the standings say they are, and that run plus-21 differential run differential is beginning to creep out of the red-flag territory it was in last month.