A dozen runs turned out to be enough, just barely.
The Oakland A’s held on for a wild 12-10 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday at Kauffman Stadium, in a game that saw the two teams combine for 35 hits and 46 total baserunners. The slumping A’s bullpen made it interesting at the end as usual, nearly blowing a seven-run lead, but they stranded the winning run on base in the 9th.
*** Click here to revisit tonight’s Game Thread! ***
Oakland’s lineup is having a hot September, and one key difference tonight is they didn’t stop scoring after an early outburst. In many of their recent frustrating losses, the offense has taken a quick lead but then gone silent, while the pitching staff struggles to hold on and eventually blows it. They jumped out ahead again this evening with eight runs in the first five innings, but this time they continued adding insurance in the 7th and that allowed them to withstand the Royals’ multiple comeback attempts.
On the other hand, the A’s pitching had another rough day. Their starter was tagged with five runs, and the bullpen allowed five more in four innings. Kansas City entered the 9th down by three but loaded the bases and scored once, before a groundout finally ended the four-hour affair.
It was an overwhelming parade of singles. Oakland racked up a season-high 18 hits (plus five walks), and only two went for extra-bases. They did their damage by going 8-for-21 with runners in scoring position.
In the 2nd inning, they got runners to second and third and Elvis Andrus singled to drive them both home. Andrus ended up with four hits tonight.
Elvis comin' in clutch pic.twitter.com/VfIuJwnVUf— Oakland A's (@Athletics) September 16, 2021
The next two innings featured Matt Olson. He led off the 3rd with a walk, then moved to second on a groundout and alertly took third on the same play when he noticed nobody was covering the base. Mark Canha knocked him in with an RBI single.
In the 4th, Olson launched a two-run homer to left. That put the A’s up 5-1 at the time.
Definition of an Oly #RiseAndGrind | @Xfinity pic.twitter.com/nplm9ciw8w— Oakland A's (@Athletics) September 16, 2021
The Royals scored in the bottom of the 4th to make it 5-4, but Oakland was far from done.
In the 5th they loaded the bases with nobody out. Tony Kemp singled home one run, and Josh Harrison singled home two more.
Okay J-Hay #RiseAndGrind pic.twitter.com/JxGAAGpokv— Oakland A's (@Athletics) September 16, 2021
After six innings, the A’s were ahead 8-5, but no lead feels safe these days. Fortunately, they kept adding on.
In the 7th they put together their biggest rally yet. Kemp and Andrus singled to set the table. Harrison singled to drive in Kemp. Starling Marte singled to drive in Andrus, and the outfielder made an error on the play so Harrison came all the way around from first to score. Khris Davis was called to pinch-hit, and he singled too, driving in Marte. That’s four runs on five singles, and it gave Oakland the extra padding they needed to finish off the win.
Only @jhay_da_man can slide with this much swag pic.twitter.com/u7Ko2i3cph— A's on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) September 16, 2021
Seven different A’s had multiple hits, led by Andrus with four and Canha with three (plus a walk). Eight different players scored, and seven drove in at least one — and Olson passed the 100 RBI mark for the first time in his career. Other than Olson’s homer, the only other extra-base hit was a leadoff double by Andrus in the 9th, which was stranded. On the downside, Marte was thrown out trying to steal in the 1st inning, the first time he’s been caught in an Oakland uniform after 23 straight successful attempts.
Pitching barely holds on
Kansas City mirrored a similar approach at the plate. They piled up 17 hits, 14 of them singles with one homer mixed in, and went 7-for-16 with runners in scoring position. This game was like watching the Royals play against a clone of themselves.
A’s starter Sean Manaea couldn’t stop them. He only allowed one run through the first three innings, but a long rally in the 4th scored three more, followed by a solo homer in the 5th. The dinger was by Salvador Perez, his 44th of the year, one behind the single-season record for a catcher.
- Manaea: 5 ip, 5 runs, 3 Ks, 1 BB, 1 HR, 9 hits, 101 pitches, 94.9 mph EV
The lefty had been excellent in his previous two starts, but he got hit hard tonight. Still, he exited with an 8-5 lead.
It would be up to the bullpen the rest of the way. The A’s had blown nine saves in their previous 21 games, and they got dangerously close to letting another one slip away.
The first reliever up was Lou Trivino. He tossed a scoreless 6th, then came back out for the 7th and allowed one run but made it through.
Next was Jake Diekman in the 8th. A leadoff double and a flare single scored one. Suddenly the bases were loaded, and another single scored a pair. The lead was down to 12-9, and the game was quickly unraveling again.
Diekman was pulled, and Andrew Chafin escaped the rest of the 8th. But in the 9th, Chafin found trouble too, with a leadoff walk, a line drive single, and a bunt single to load the bases with nobody out. A grounder to second earned the first out but also pushed a run home, then Chafin notched a strikeout but also issued another walk to re-load the bases.
Two-run lead, two outs, bags packed. The next batter drilled the ball 107 mph but pounded it into the ground right back at Chafin, who knocked it down, recovered, and threw to first. Game mercifully over.
It wasn’t a pretty win, and it didn’t do anything to diminish concerns about the pitching staff. But it was a win.
September 16, 2021