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A’s come up short in loss to Royals

Kyle Muller struggled in his second spring start and Oakland fell behind early in a 6-4 loss.

MLB: Spring Training-Oakland Athletics at Chicago Cubs Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Muller wasn’t sharp in his second spring outing as the Oakland Athletics fell behind early in a 6-4 loss to the Kansas City Royals.

Muller made his second start of the spring and worked a scoreless first, but then ran into trouble in the second. Matt Beaty grounded out to begin the second, but Franmil Reyes followed with a single and then Muller walked Maikel Garcia to put runners at first and second. Reyes moved over to third on a fly out by Dairon Blanco. Jose Brice then brought home Reyes with a single to right to make it 1-0. Salad Taylor followed with another run-scoring single to make it 2-0. Muller then got Bobby Witt Jr. to ground out to escape with no further damage.

Oakland answered back with a run in the second. Brent Rooker reached on a one-out single and then advanced all the way to third as Tyler Soderstrom doubled off the wall in left. Cristian Pache then grounded to third, but Rooker scored on the play to make it 2-1.

Things didn’t get any better for Muller in the third. Michael Massey began the inning with a double into the right center gap. He would score as Hunter Dozier mashed a fly ball that left the bat at 110 mph off the hitter’s eye in center to make it 3-1. Beaty then grounded to Ryan Noda at first, but his throw to Muller covering first was wide which allowed Dozier to score to extend the deficit to 4-1. Muller then got Reyes to bounce into a 5-4-3 double play and would then be replaced by Bryce Conley who got Garcia to ground out to end the inning.

Muller wasn’t as sharp as his first outing as he allowed five hits and four runs (3 earned) in 2 2/3 innings. Muller issued one walk and failed to strikeout a batter.

Freddy Tarnok entered in the fourth and got Dairon Blanco to pop out to get the inning started. However, Brice followed with a hard hit double off the wall in left. He moved over to third on an infield single by Samad Taylor and then came into score on an opposite field single by Witt to make it 5-1. Michael Massey then lined one to second that Zack Gelof snagged in the air before throwing to first to complete the double play.

The A’s got one run back in the fourth against Royals reliever Scott Barlowe. Rooker struck again with a one-out double to left. He moved over to third on a ground out by Soderstrom and then scored on a single by Pache to make it 5-2. Tyler Wade then blooped a single into short left and Pache advanced all the way to third on the play. However, Gelof popped out to second to leave the runners stranded.

Oakland continued to chip away in the fifth. Nick Allen got things started by beating out an infield single. He moved to second on a wild pitch and then came around to score on a double by Conner Capel. Ramon Laureano struck out for the first out and Capel moved over to third with a stolen base. Dermis Garcia flied out to shallow center and Capel was unable to advance on the play. Dylan Coleman then hit Cody Thomas to load the bases, but Pache grounded out to shortstop on the first pitch he saw for the final out of the inning.

Tarnok pitched around a walk in a scoreless fifth and then retired the side in order in the sixth. He would exit having allowed three hits and one run over three innings of work. He walked one and struck out one.

Garrett Williams came in for the seventh and struggled. Williams struck out Luca Tresh for the first out, but then hit Clay Dunagan and Tucker Bradley before walking CJ Alexander. With the bases loaded, Williams issued another free pass to Jeison Guzman to force in a run to make it 6-3. Williams then got Angelo Castellano to pop out for the second out before giving way to right-hander Charles Hall. Nick Loftin then lifted a sinking liner to right that Lawrence Butler snagged on a diving attempt to end the inning.

Oakland made it interesting in the ninth as Kevin Smith reached on an error by Castellano to begin the inning. After a strikeout by Jordan Diaz, Butler doubled to center to put runners at first and third. Dermis Garcia followed with a sacrifice fly to right that scored Smith to make it 6-4. Mr excitement, Butler would swipe third, but Thomas grounded out to end the game.

Butler’s diving catch in right was the highlight of the day for the A’s and he added a double in the ninth. Rooker finished with two of the team’s eight hits. Pache was 1-for-3 and drove in two runs.

The Athletics will be back in action Saturday with split squad action against the Reds and the Guardians. Drew Rucinski is listed as the starter against Cincinnati in Las Vegas while Adam Oller will start against the Guardians.