Things have been turning around this weekend for the Oakland A’s. Not only did the team get its first back-to-back victories, win its first series, and secure its first two starting pitcher wins, it also tied the Kansas City Royals for the worst record in the league. Usually that’s not what you want to do, but after leading that race for most of the year, it was a pleasant surprise to not feel like the worst team in history for 15 hours.
With today’s rubber match against the Royals, the A’s could’ve buried them in last place with a victory. Instead, it’s Oakland who’s once again alone at the bottom.
Starting the game with Mason Miller on the mound gave the A’s a good chance to secure a sweep of the Royals. Though not as dominant as he was in his first three starts, in which he had a 3.52 ERA/2.51 FIP and didn’t allow a hit in his last NINE innings, he still performed at a high level and put the A’s in a good position to win the ballgame.
Mason Miller, Mean 96mph Cutter. ✂️ pic.twitter.com/cxD2wWObk2— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 7, 2023
Miller was able to secure his second consecutive quality start, throwing 6 innings of two-run ball and striking out 5 batters. He also limited the Royals to 6 baserunners, 5 hits and 1 walk. The two runs he allowed were a solo homer from 4-time Silver Slugger Salvador Perez in the top of the 1st off of a blazing 99.9 mph four-seamer up in the zone.
The A’s struck back in the bottom of the 3rd. The action started when Royals starter Ryan Yarbarough hit Brent Rooker with a 73 mph curveball. Ouch. The team MVP so far this season, Rooker had a rare 0-3 night but still contributed on offense with a surprising steal of 2nd base. He can do it all, folks!
Ramon Laureano stepped up to the plate with a chance to tie the game and did just that. On the third pitch of the at-bat, down 0-2, Laser knocked a down-and-in curveball up the middle. Royals second baseman Michael Massey nearly nabbed the groundball, deflecting the pitch off his glove and nearly rolling over. Fortunately for the A’s, the ball rolled far enough away from Massey and shortstop Bobby Witt, Jr. that Rooker, a bonafide speedster, was able to get all the way home and tie the game at 1-1.
The Royals took back the lead just half an inning later. Once again, things started with Perez, who led off the inning with a line drive single to right field. A wild pitch cutter moved him over to scoring position giving the Royals plenty of chances to score the go-ahead run. One chance was stopped by a stellar jumping catch from Nick Allen.
Nick Allen lays out for the catch pic.twitter.com/Z5Uv4GqEdb— A's on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) May 7, 2023
That unfortunately didn’t stop the Royals though; not long after, Royals third baseman Maikel Garcia blooped an RBI single to left-center field and brought Perez across home plate for the second time today.
With the game now 2-1 and Miller at 98 pitches, Mark Kotsay went to Shintaro Fujinami to keep the A’s in the ballgame. Unfortunately, the nightmare from hell continues for Fuji, who came into the game with a 13.50 ERA. He was, to his credit, get out of the 7th inning unscathed, allowing just a lone single to Witt Jr. Things, however, broke down for him the 8th, giving up 3 straight hits to the middle of the Royals lineup. The third hit was a double from Nick Pratto to the right-center alley, allowing Perez and MJ Melendez to score from 1st and 2nd. A few batters later and with Sam Long now in the game, the Royals secured their 5th run off a sacrifice fly that scored Pratto.
Long finished the 8th off without anymore damage but the A’s offense wasn’t able to claw back at all, ending the game at 5-1 and preventing a sweep in what will probably end up as the Oakland’s best chance this season. The are now once again the only worst team in the league. The race to the bottom, or out of it, continues tomorrow as the A’s start a series at Yankees Stadium.