Burns makes a lot out of a little in the A’s big 3-2 win over the World Champion Royals

Moustakas blast
Kansas City Royals’ Mike Moustakas (8) hits a solo home run against the Oakland Athletics during the third inning of a baseball game, Sunday, April 17, 2016, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)


By Morris Phillips

photo on the cover by AP: Coco Crisp (4) and Josh Reddick (22) jump for joy after the A’s win the series over the Kansas City Royals Sunday at the Oakland Coliseum

OAKLAND–Billy Burns’ hard hit groundball in the eighth inning didn’t have the look of a game-changer, but it was, keying perhaps the biggest win of the young season to date for the A’s.

Facing Joakim Soria, Burns fought off a 2-2 pitch, sending a two-hopper over and past the first bag and into the visitor’s bullpen, allowing the speedy centerfielder to do what he does best… run. Reymond Fuentes raced over from right field, and bobbled the pickup, which allowed Burns to cruise into third base standing up. Most any other major leaguer—not gifted with Burns’ wheels—would have settled for two bases.

With the blessing of first base umpire Mark Carlson, and by a matter of inches, Burns had put the A’s in position to pull out a 3-2 win over the World Champion Royals, who just happen to be the current kings of pulling out close, low scoring ballgames.

“Fortunate to sneak one down the line there,” Burns said.

“Got it just enough inside the line and hit it just hard enough to get by (first baseman Eric Hosmer),” manager Bob Melvin said.

Burns’ big hit was followed by Josh Reddick’s sacrifice fly that broke a 2-2 tie that for the A’s was plenty hard earned. The A’s game-winning third run may not have been as hard earned as the first two runs, but it was surely a long shot. With the game tied late, Hosmer was hugging the line, and definitely not in the mood to let Burns get a shot for extra bases. But the ball shot past the diving Hosmer, evading his glove by inches.

Earlier the A’s were confounded by Royals’ starter Kris Medlen, who allowed just two hits, and kept the A’s from fully taking advantage of the four walks he issued. The one gift the A’s did benefit from was really on catcher Salvador Perez, who couldn’t snag Medlen’s strikeout pitch to Chris Coghlan, allowing Coghlan to reach on a passed ball, and Coco Crisp to score from third base.

That pulled the A’s within 2-1 in the fourth inning, but they’d get no closer until pinch hitter Jed Lowrie grabbed a bat in the seventh.

Coghlan delivered the hardest hit ball for the A’s on Medlin’s final pitch—one out into the seventh—a ground rule double that one-hopped the centerfield fence. Manager Ned Yost then called upon Kelvin Hererra, his prized setup man, to maintain the narrow lead.

But Lowrie delivered an RBI single on a 3-2 pitch after fighting off a pair of nasty sliders. Lowrie’s hit not only tied the game, but rendered the efficient Medlin to a no-decision.

A’s starter Chris Bassitt got deeper into the game than Medlin, pitching seven full, but also was saddled with a no-decision. Bassitt pitched well again, allowing five hits and two runs with a home run ball allowed to Mike Moustakas with two outs in the fourth the one pitch he wished he could get back.

“I was caught between pitches and wasn’t convicted to it at all,” Bassitt said. “And that’s kind of what happens when you throw a pitch that’s not really convicted against a good hitter. He makes you pay for it.”

Closer Ryan Doolittle was given the day off, and Ryan Madson stepped up in the ninth, earning his fourth save. John Axford pitched a 1-2-3 eighth and picked up the win.  Oakland took the final two against the Royals, after dropping four straight and seven of their first eight games this season at the Coliseum.

The A’s flew to the East Coast after the game and will open a 10-game road trip in New York on Tuesday. After three against the Yankees, the A’s travel to Toronto and then finish with four games in Detroit. Eric Surkamp will pitch the opener at Yankees Stadium, opposed by Michael Pineda in a 4:05pm EST start.


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