A’s squeak by the Royals 2-1

Photo credit: @Athletics

By Jerry Feitelberg

What a difference a day makes. On Monday night the A’s routed the Kansas City Royals 19-4. The A’s pounded out 22 hits to trounce KC.  On Tuesday night, it was a different story. The A’s had just five hits, none after the second inning, and two runs. The A’s starter Mike Fiers went 5 1/3 innings and gave up only one run to earn his 13th win of the year and helped the A’s beat the Royals 2-1.

The late Joaquin Andujar had a saying; “You never know.” That is so true in baseball as one never knows what is going to happen in any particular game. You never know when you go to the park what you are going to see. One night it’s a blowout. The next night it’s a pitcher’s duel.”

That was what happened in Kansas City Tuesday night. The A’s, fighting for a playoff berth, need to put as many games as possible in the win column. They entered the game tied for the second Wild Card with Tampa Bay. They trailed the Cleveland Indians by 1/2 game for the first Wild Card. The Indians trounced the Detroit Tigers 10-1, and the Houston Astros clobbered the Tampa Bay Rays 15-1. The A’s now lead the Rays by one game and trail the Indians by 1/2 game. The first Wild Card hosts the one-game playoff between the first and second Wild Cards.

The A’s scored a run in the top of the first. Marcus Semien reached on an infield single. Royals starter, lefty Mike Montgomery, who entered the game with a 3-6 record, struck out Matt Chapman and Matt Olson swinging. A’s center fielder Mark Canha reached on Royals third baseman Cheslor Cuthbert’s fielding error. Khris Davis reached on an infield single to load the bases. Chad Pinder walked to drive in Semien with the A’s first run.

The A’s put another run on the board in the top of the second. With one out, A’s catcher Josh Phegley doubled to deep left center field. Marcus Semien followed his second hit of the night to drive in Phegley. Semien was caught stealing as he tried to advance to third base. That may have cost the A’s a run as Matt Chapman followed with a double. Matt Olson struck out to end the inning. The A’s led 2-0

Mike Fiers escaped jams in the second, third and fourth innings to keep the A’s ahead. In the bottom of the sixth, the Royals scored their only run of the game. Royals right fielder Hunter Dozier led off the sixth with a single. Left fielder Alex Gordon doubled to deep right-center field to drive in Dozier. Fiers retired Cuthbert for the first out. Fiers walked Ryan O’Hearn and that was the last batter he faced. A’s manager Bob Melvin went to the bullpen and brought in Yusmeiro Petit for the 66th time this year. Petit got Bubba Starling to fly out to center then struck out Meibrys Viloria looking for the third out, The A’s led 2-1.

There was no more scoring in the game. The A’s bullpen of Petite, Joakim Soria, and Liam Hendriks pitched 3 2/3 innings of scoreless ball and allowed one hit. The Royals’ bullpen did its job, too. Royals manager Ned Yost pulled Montgomery from the game with one out in the seventh. Kevin McCarthy, Scott Barlow, and Ian Kennedy did not allow a hit and kept the A’s scoreless. The A’s managed to hold on to win 2-1.

Game Notes: Mike Fiers won his 13th game of the year. It was a career-high for him. He started the season 2-3, but he has not lost since the beginning of May and has won his last 11 decisions. He is now 13-3.

Montgomery took the hard-luck loss, and his record drops to 3-7.

Fiers’ line was 5 1/3 innings of work, eight hits, and one run. Montgomery’s line was 6 1/3 innings, five hits, and two runs (one unearned).

Joakim Soria pitched in his 61st game this year. Soria was with the Royals from 2007 to 2011 and recorded 162 saves for Kansas City. He is third on the save list in Royals history.

The A’s scored runs in the first and second innings Tuesday night. They scored in the last eight innings Monday night. The 10 consecutive innings scoring a run set a new Oakland franchise record.

Mark Canha failed to get a hit, and his 10-game hitting streak came to an end.

The A’s sparkled on defense. Left fielder Seth Brown made two outstanding defensive play. Brown threw out Meibrys Viloria trying to score from second on a single by Whit Merrifield. He also made a great diving catch. He left his feet and threw out his glove to keep the ball from going to the wall for at least a double. Matt Chapman mad at least three sterling defensive gems to help out his team One of the plays was a bunt by Merrifield that went right down the line. Chapman barehanded the ball and threw to first to nail Merrifield. Merrifield, who has excellent speed, could not believe he was thrown out.

Up Next: Game three of the four-game series will be played Wednesday night at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City. The game will start at 5:15 pm PDT.

The A’s will have Tanner Roark handle the pitching chores. Roark is 8-8 with a 3.95 ERA. His opponent will be the Royal’s Jakob Junis. Junis is 8-12 with a 4.89 ERA. Junis labored in his last start against the Cleveland Indians last Friday. He threw 94 pitches in just four innings of work and allowed all four runs in the 4-1 loss to Cleveland.

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