The Oakland A’s are one game closer to clinching... the second-worst record in the league. It may not be much but the team must badly want it because they fought hard to muscle their way to the victory tonight against the Kansas City Royals.
Jordan Diaz opened the fireworks, taking a couple of pitches before blasting a slider deep to left field and off the top of the out-of-town scoreboard. The infielder hasn’t lit the world on fire during his time with the A’s but he’s shown that he can at least compete with major league pitching, sporting a nearly league average batting line.
Next up to the home run derby was Zack Gelof, who’s once again broken another A’s record of fastest to nine homers, leading with just 32 games. For comparison, Diaz, who also hit his ninth career homer tonight, took 77 games to get there. Gelof’s power breakout continues to be a pleasant unsurprising surprise for A’s fans. On top of the numbers, his hits are a beauty. Multiple times already, the rookie infielder’s hit Khris Davis-esque longballs that carry slowly but surely over the right field wall. Today’s was a glowing example.
Gelof saw the first pitch of the inning and said, "That'll do." pic.twitter.com/H1fVtWuM8X— A's on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) August 22, 2023
In the 5th and 6th innings, the A’s brought in a couple of more runs via a Seth Brown RBI single and an awe-worthy moonshot from Shea Langeliers.
This gave the A’s a 4-2 lead, piggybacking on Paul Blackburn perfectly good start. The staff leader threw six innings of two-run ball, striking out six and walking just one. Unfortunately, the A’s bullpen continues to continue their horrific run with another late-game blown lead. The victim, this time, was Lucas Erceg, who was a borderline dominant setup man early in his tenure but has lost his mojo in the second half.
With the game tied at four going into the bottom of the 9th, the A’s made sure to not let the game get into overtime. On the first pitch of the inning, Ryan Noda, in his return from the injured list, got beamed by Dylan Coleman. With the winning run at first, Brent Rooker came up with a mission to end the game. First, he took a slider and fastball off the corners for balls. Then, he saw an 89 mph hanging waist-high slider spinning towards the middle of the zone and widened his eyes. He reached back and swung wide, blasting the ball high and deep over the left field wall. A two-run no-doubter to walk it off for the A’s, bringing their season record against the Royals to 3-1.
It’s nice when you take a lead and there are no more innings for the bullpen to blow. The A’s now only leads (trails?) the Royals by four games as they continue to battle for the worst record in the league tomorrow for game two.