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Spring Game #13: A’s late rally falls short, lose to Royals

Jefferies with a mixed bag on the hill today

MLB: Texas Rangers at Oakland Athletics Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

The A’s never gave up today, putting the tying run on base in the 9th, but ultimately came up short in a 5-4 loss to the Kansas City Royals.

The Royals marched out to a five run lead by the third inning while Oakland slowly chipped away, but the A’s just couldn’t get the big inning from the offense today.

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

Starting pitcher Daulton Jefferies got the nod this afternoon, with building his pitch count at the top of the list of goals for today’s game. Jefferies allowed a leadoff double to open the game but was able to wiggle out of the jam. He wouldn’t be so lucky in the next couple innings, serving up 2-run home runs in the second and third innings apiece. There was a lot of loud contact off of him this afternoon.

On the positive side for Jefferies, he would settle down after the third, allowing only a single the rest of his day, with catcher Sean Murphy immediately nailing that guy trying to steal second base on a perfectly-timed pitchout:

Even with all the hard contact and runs given up today by Jefferies, the right-hander was still able to collect 7 K’s along the way while pitching into the 5th. Jefferies is all but assured a rotation spot at this point but you’d like to see him keep the strikeouts up and the loud contact down in his final spring start.

  • Daulton Jefferies: 4 23 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 7 K, 0 BB

The offense got going a little too late in this one. After falling behind 5-0 after three innings, the lineup finally got on the board thanks to a Stephen Piscotty RBI groundout in the 4th. Oakland would execute a two-out rally the next inning, capped by a Sean Murphy RBI single to bring in pinch-runner Drew Jackson and inch closer. No one in camp has had a better spring than Murphy, who also drew two walks today and is now 10-19 in the lead up to Opening Day.

The A’s had another 2-out rally in the 6th, with today’s second baseman Kevin Smith smacking a double for his only hit of the day followed by a Cristian Pache RBI single to right field to make it a two run game. The offense went down in order in the 7th and 8th innings before Oakland would get the first two base runners on in the bottom of the ninth to bring the game-winning run to the plate, but all they could scratch out was a Christian Lopes RBI sac fly to the warning track to give the fans a jolt of late-game excitement.

Some good, some bad today, but hey, it was exciting to the end! Only five more Spring Training games left before Opening Day next week, let’s hope the A’s can turn it up soon and hit the ground running when they open the season in Philadelphia.

Notes:

  • The bullpen showed up today, tossing 4 13 shutout frames to give the A’s a shot to come back. Left-hander Sam Moll continued his nice spring collecting 3 K’s and a pickoff today, and righty Justin Grimm pitched two innings to lower his spring ERA to 1.69. Lefty Kirby Snead, acquired in the Matt Chapman trade, pitched a scoreless 9th.
  • Tony Kemp (0-4, K) manned left field today, leaving second base up to Kevin Smith. Smith has been bouncing between second, third and shortstop all spring, so it’s fair to assume he’ll be spending a lot of time at each of those three positions this season.
  • Pache (1-3, RBI) had a hard-hit ball caught for an out in the 2nd. The stats won’t show it, but Pache has been hitting the ball hard this spring, a very encouraging sign of things to come.
  • And finally, some non-game news: Mark Kotsay said before the game that left-hander A.J. Puk is no longer a rotation option and is ticketed for a relief role to open the season, but hasn’t shut the door on Puk getting another chance to start down the line. This should hopefully help Puk to stay healthy all season.