That’s two in a row!
For the second straight day, the Oakland A’s beat the Kansas City Royals, this time a 5-3 comeback victory. It marks the first time in a month that the A’s have won back-to-back games, and also their first series win in the same span.
The last time Oakland won twice in a row was May 24-25 against the Mariners. Since then they’d dropped 22 of 27 games, and lost eight series in a row, half of them sweeps. Most of the defeats were marked by a complete lack of offense, as the club averaged well under three runs per contest during the skid.
Sunday was a refreshing change of pace, just like yesterday’s thriller had been. The lineup did some scoring again, and not all at once but spread throughout the afternoon. They struck first to take an early lead, and then when the Royals briefly charged past them in the 6th inning, the A’s answered with some more runs to come back and retake the lead. On the other side of the ball, the bullpen had a hiccup but ultimately settled down to help seal the victory, another welcome conclusion after some late-inning adventures lately.
The scoreboard stayed empty until the 4th, when Oakland scratched out their first run. A leadoff walk, a wild pitch, and a productive groundout set the scene for Stephen Vogt to deliver an RBI single.
They got another one in the 6th inning, on a solo homer by Seth Brown. That’s his 10th dinger of the year, making him the first on the team to reach double-digits. And it was no cheap shot, at 108.7 mph off the bat and an impressive 419 feet in distance.
That blast put them up 2-0, but not for long.
Kansas City took even longer to find home plate, as starter James Kaprielian kept them off the board for the first five innings. They only got on base three times during that span, and one of them was eliminated in a double play.
But in the 6th they made their move. A triple and a pair of walks loaded the bases, and with one out the bullpen entered. Reliever Sam Moll struck out his first batter, but then allowed a sharp single to drive in two runs and tie the game. The next batter hit a soft flare that landed for a lucky single, sending home the go-ahead run.
- Kaprielian: 5⅓ ip, 3 runs, 2 Ks, 4 BB, 2 hits, 84 pitches
For Moll, this was a second straight rough game. He did a two-day stint on the COVID-related injured list this week but was activated Thursday, then was tagged with a blown save on Saturday and again today. However, while yesterday was a meltdown in which he allowed three walks and a homer, this afternoon he improved to a strikeout, a grounder, and a weak popup, which will get the job done on most occasions even if it resulted in three inherited runners scoring this time.
The final bloop hit against Moll did more than score a crucial run. Second baseman Jonah Bride and right fielder Chad Pinder collided on the play, requiring the trainers to come check on them. Fortunately they both stayed in the game, though Bride did leave later and has a “banged up shoulder” per insider Martin Gallegos.
Scary collision between Chad Pinder and Jonah Bride. After being tended to by medical personnel for several minutes, both players walked off the field on their own power. pic.twitter.com/kczQuAUMzg— A's on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) June 26, 2022
However, also notice the heads-up effort by center fielder Cristian Pache backing up the play. It was still a live ball and the runners were still moving, so he raced over to pick it up. The batter was trying to hustle into second base, but Pache threw in time to nab him there for the third out of the inning. On top of that, the out was recorded just a moment before another runner could cross the plate with what would have been the fourth run of the rally.
Suddenly the A’s were down 3-2, but they responded immediately in the top of the 7th.
With two outs on the board, Pinder singled and Pache followed with another dynamic play. He hit a grounder that clipped the pitcher’s glove, caromed past the second baseman, and dribbled into no-man’s land in right field, allowing him to hustle all the way to second base for a “double.” Just minutes earlier, Pache had alertly thrown out a runner from that spot, but the Royals defense was unable to return the favor and he took full advantage.
That put runners on second and third, and rookie Nick Allen came through with a clutch single to drive them both home and put Oakland back on top.
They kept pushing, and manufactured some insurance in the 9th. Sheldon Neuse singled, stole second, moved to third on a wild pitch, and scored on a single by Pache.
Cristian Pache insurance policy ✍️ pic.twitter.com/YCZ9ZmMRcU— A's on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) June 26, 2022
That capped a productive few innings for Pache, between his run-saving assist on defense in the 6th, a hustle double and a run scored in the 7th, and an RBI single in the 9th.
With the lead back in hand, all the A’s needed now was a few more zeroes from their bullpen. Domingo Acevedo came through with a perfect 7th, Zach Jackson breezed through a scoreless 8th, and Lou Trivino made things interesting in the 9th but finished the job, with the tying run in scoring position. Trivino earned the save for the second straight day.
Baby steps. That’s two wins in a row, two solid offensive showings in a row, two strong defensive days in a row, two successful Trivino saves in a row, and two fun games in a row. That all feels like progress, as does seeing them battle hard until the end both days.
Perhaps best of all was seeing a few of the younger players lead the way. Pache was productive on both sides of the ball, Brown hit a homer and a double, and Allen had a key hit plus a nice defensive highlight. Something to build on!