Kansas City 2 – 5 – 0
Oakland 11 – 14- 0
By Lewis Rubman
June Saturday, June 1 2021
The Oakland A’s Tony Kemp slides in at home in front of Elvis Andrus after Matt Chapman hits a two run double in the second inning at the Oakland Coliseum on Sat Jun 12, 2021 (AP News photo)
OAKLAND–While the Oakland A’s (39-27) and Kansas City Royals (30-33) were taking batting and fielding practice before this afternoon’s game, the city of San Leandro paid tribute to one of baseball’s unrecognized heroes of the game by dedicating the local Little League and Senior Leagues field in that city to Lou Profumo and unveiling a plaque that identifies the place as Lou Profumo Field. The A’s rallied in the bottom of the eighth inning for five runs and pretty much put the kibosh on the Royals for a 11-2 win.
It’s a small park in a small city, but Lou, who had a short career as a pitcher in the minor leagues during the 1950s and ’60s, played a major role in the development of hundreds, if not thousands of children and young adults who went on to live productive lives while enjoying and nourishing the game.
He coached youth baseball and women’s softball, worked to maintain the playing fields of the east bay area, and, as San Leandro councilmember Victor Aguilar put it, “He helped close the equity gap for those who could not afford to play.”
He’s a frequent welcome participant at the meetings of the local SABR chapter and the Pacific Coast League Historical Society, where he shares the knowledge and experience he’s gathered in his long and fruitful life, both horizontal across the baseball globe and vertical, in his deep roots here in the bay area.
In spite of all of the baseball industry’s faults and problems, the game of baseball continues to thrive, thanks to the work and dedication of people like Lou. That last sentence isn’t quite right. There are thousands of people like him, but there’s really no one like Lou Profumo.
In order to reach the Coliseum in time for today’s game, I couldn’t attend the ceremony to honor him and his contributions. I hope these inadequate notes can provide a measure of appreciation to that shown him in this morning’s ceremony.
At the Coliseum, the A’s hosted a less intimate pre-game gathering, this one held to celebrate African American Heritage Day. The different types of tribute–the grass roots and the institutional, the individual and collective–can be complimentary, as they were today.
After the last two night’s battles between Oakland and Kansas City, there’s a temptation to skip the first six innings and start paying attention in the top of the action-filled seventh. But ball games begin at the beginning and not always in the big inning.
This game began with James Kaprielian (2-1, 3.08) toeing the rubber for the 38-27 Athletics. He lost his most recent start, the first L he received as a major league hurler, but he had pitched pretty well in that losing effort, having allowed only two runs over five innings in Coors Field, where ERAs go to boom in the rarified air and spacious distances betweeen outfielders.
Kansas City (30-32) countered with Jackson Kowar, making only his second big league start. He was their compensation round draft pick, in exchange for the loss of Lorenzo Cain, in 2018 and rose quickly to the top. He was, however, creamed in his MLB debut five days ago at the Big A, where the Angels disposed of him after just two thirds of an inning in which he yielded three hits on four runs, two walks, and three wild pitches. His pitch count was 39. That he started today, five days after that inauspicious outing, is a sign that the Royals still think highly of him.
Kowar’s first inning this afternoon wasn’t the nightmare he suffered in Anaheim, but he did allow Oakland to take a 1-0 on Mitch Moreland’s sacrifice fly almost to the left center field wall, which plated Tony Kemp, who had singled to right and advanced to third when Matt Olson also singled to right.
Add a couple of walks to that, and the A’s had loaded the bases before Chad Pinder forced Seth Brown, the recipient of Kowar’s second passport, at second. He threw 34 pitches in the process of getting through his first major league complete inning. Kaprielian responded by striking out the three Royals he faced in the top of the second.
The Kansas City bull pen began stirring in the bottom of the second when Chapman’s liner to left rebounded off the fence, driving in Andrus, who has singled, and Kemp who had walked. Two pitches later, Olson drove Chapman in with a double to right.
Roland Bolaños hadn’t had time to warm up properly, but he came in anyway. Kowar, in his 1-1/3 inning stint had served up 57 offerings, 28 of which were balls. He allowed four hits and three walks while striking out one, Skye Bolt, who was spelling Canha in center field.
Bolaños retired Moreland and Sean Muprhy, so Kowar was charged with only four runs, all of them well earned. At game’s end, he was the losing pitcher, with a record of 0-2, 36.00 Kaprielian faced some trouble of his own in the third, but he pitched his way out of it.
Jarrod Dyson’s lead off single to center and a walks to Nicky López brought Carlos Santana to the plate with runners on first and second with two down. The two runners executed a double steal before Santana walked to load the bases with royalty. Kaprielian restored order by getting Benindtendi to pop out to Kemp at second.
An innning later,a one out triple to right center by KelvinGutiérrez and walks to Dozie and Dyson had Kaprielian in a bases loaded jam. He wiggled out of it with a fly to right that Gutiérrez elected not to run on (a tribute to Seth Brown’s arm) and a grounder fielded by Andrus behind second and arriving in Olson’s glove before the speedy López made it to first.
Once Bolaños had retired his sixth consecutive batter by striking Olson out to end the fourth it looked like the Athletics had setled into their familiar pattern of jumping out to an early lead and then holding on for dear life while their bats went cold and their pitching faltered. But Kaprielian’s 1-2-3 fifth held at least the pitching part of that anxiety at bay.
In the bottom of the frame, the A’s allayed the anxiety’s offensive portion. A two out singgle to center by Brown, followed b a walk to Pinder and Andrus’s single to center scored a run and chased Bolaños from the mound. Carlos Hernández squelched the uprrising by striking out Bolt.
Bolaños had done a good job of keeping KC in the game. He allowed that one run in 3-1/3 frames, striking out four and walking two while yielding two hits and had stranded the runner in scoring position he inherited with only one out.His pitch count was 56, with 32 strikes.
Hernández stopped the A’s cold in the fifth, but he wasn’t as effetive in the sixth. After Kemp took a called strike three, Chapman continued to recover his batting stride, taking a 99 mph slider 388 feet deep into the right field stands and upping the Oakland lead to a more comfortable 6-0.
Six shutout innings were enough for Kaprielian on this warm–torrid for Oakland–afternoon. He left after allowing only two hits and four walks to go with seven Ks.
60 of his 95 pitchs were strikes. He eventually got the win Jesús Luzardo, whose seventh inning meltdown two nights ago was one of the most distressing components of that debacle, replaced him and kept the Royals off the board, allowing them only a walk.
He continued his attempt redeem his performance in last Thursday’s sinister seventh when he stayed on in the eighth. That was thwarted, despite Luzardo’s strike out of Pérez, by the 378 foot homer to left that Gutiérrez hit of a Luzardo change up with Santana on base with two out that brought Sergio Romo to the mound to put out the brush fire.
Hernández didn’t answer the bell for the seventh; Josh Staumont shut the A’s out for the visitors that inning. For the eight, it was Wade Davis, whose first pitch resulted in Skye Bolt’s first hit of the season and first major league home run, a 410 foot blast to center.
Before Davis knew what had hit him, Kemp and Chapman singled, and Olson smacked a three run homer to left center, his sixteenth round tripper of the year, raising his RBI totl to 44 and the A’s lead to 10-2. No one got up in the Kansas City bullpen; it was up to Wade to just sponge it up. It turned out that only one more Oakland run crossed the plate, scored by Moreland on Pinder’s sacrifice liner to right.
Cam Bedrosian mopped up for Oakland in the ninth, setting the Royals down in order.
It was a very satisfying vindication for the A’s, who now have bounced back from the affront to their dignity inflicted on them on Thursday. Chapman’s batting seems to have turned the corner, but Luzano’s poor showing is a concern.
The A’s have clinched a tie for this series. They hope to win it tomorrow, when Chris Bassitt (6-2, 3.44) is slated to go against Kris Bubic (1-1,3.32). The Angels will come to town for a three day series starting Monday. After that, the Athletics will take off for a three game series in the Bronx, a four game set in Dallas-Fort Worth, and a three day week end in Oracle Park.