Royals take game two from the Athletics 5-4 on Saturday

KC Jorge Soler Home Run
Royals Jorge Soler hits game winning home run Photo @Royals

by Charlie O. Mallonee

After a team destroys their opponents 16-0 the night before, there can be a tendency for a club to come out in the next game and be incapable of putting any runs up on the board. After the Kansas City Royals scored two runs in the bottom of the first inning on Saturday afternoon to take a 2-0 lead, it looked like game two of this three-game series might be one of those games.

The situation became grimmer in the bottom of the second inning when the Royals added to their lead. With two out in the inning, Ryan Goins laid down a bunt in front of the plate. Catcher Bruce Maxwell fielder the ball cleanly and make a quick throw to first for a “bang-bang” out. Well, wait just a minute. The Royals decided to challenge the call. Video replay in New York overturned the call on the field and Goins was called safe at first.

Now with two out and a runner at first, shortstop Alcides Escobar stepped into the batter’s box to face A’s starter Trevor Cahill. Escobar hit the first pitch to him off the fence in right field for an RBI-triple as Goins was able to come home and score easily from first base.

That brought leadoff man Jon Jay back to bat. Jay led the game off with a single and eventually scored the first run of the game. Jay – the Royals DH – hit the 1-1 pitch through the hole on the left side of the infield for a double. Escobar was able to trot home to score the fourth run of the game for Kansas City. When the second inning was over, the Royals led the Athletics 4-0.

KC Semien
Marcus Semien is making making his presence know to the Royals Photo @Athletics

The Athletics bounced back in the top of the third when Marcus Semien hit a one-out double to left-center field. After Matt Joyce struck out, Jed Lowrie singled to right field driving Semien home for the A’s first run of the contest cutting the Royals lead to 4-1.

The A’s went right back to work in the fourth inning. With one out and Fowler at first, Piscottty doubled to left field. Fowler blew through third base coach Matt Williams stop sign and was thrown out at home. Maxwell singled to left-center field drivng Piscotty home for the A’s second run of the game.

Bruce Maxwell led off the top of the seventh inning by hitting a 3-1 Jason Hammel pitch over the center field wall for his first home run of the season. The Athletics had cut the Kansas City lead to 4-3.

In the top of the eighth inning, the A’s received some bad news when Matt Joyce had to exit the game due to an injured back. Matt Olson led off the inning by hitting a single to left-center field. Olson advanced to second when Chapman grounded out. Chad Pinder entered the game as a pinch-hitter for Fowler. Pinder singled up the middle sending Olson home to tie the game at 4-4.

With one out in the home-half of the eighth inning, Jorge Soler hit his ninth home run of the season over left field wall to give the Royals a 5-4 lead. It would prove to be the game winning hit.

On the Hill

Oakland (30-29)

KC Pegan
Pagan faced only one batter on Saturday Photo @Athletics
  • Trevor Cahill was charged with a season-high four runs (all earned) on a season-high seven hits in a season-low 4.2 innings. Not a combination of stats that a starting pitcher would like to post. Cahill is winless in his last 13 road starts with a 6.46 ERA. His last road win was on August 20, 2016 in Colorado. He did strike out six Royals and walked two.
  • Emilio Pagan pitched 0.1 of an inning.
  • Danny Coulombe pitched 1.0 inning of relief allowing no hits while striking out two and walking one.
  • Yusmeiro Petit closed out the game for Oakland pitching 2.0 innings giving up one run (earned) on one hit – the home run to Soler. Petit was charged with the loss and is now 2-2 on the season.

Kansas City (21-37)

  • Jason Hammel – the Royals starter – remains winless in his last six starts. He exited the game with a 4-3 lead but Oakland tied the game and Hammel no longer could figure into the decision. Hammel gave up three runs (all earned) on seven hits (one HR) in 6.0 innings of work. He struck out three and walked two.
  • Kevin McCarthy – worked the seventh inning giving up no hits and walking one.
  • Tim Hill – had a very intersting game. He was charged with a blown save (BS, 1) he gave up the tying run in the top the eighth inning. However, Hill was the pitcher of record when Soler hit the game winning home run, so he received the win to up his record to 1-1 for the year.
  • Kelvin Herrera – entered the came in the top of the ninth to go for the save. Herrera – who has an 0.79 ERA – worked a perfect inning striking out one and earning 13th save of the season in 14 opportunities.

In the Batter’s Box

Athletics (4th-place AL West 6.5 GB)

  • Bruce Maxwell – the A’s catcher was really the man with the bat today in Kansas City. Maxwell went 2-for-3 in the game scoring a run and posting two RBI. One of Maxwell’s hits was his first home run of the season.
  • Jed Lowrie – appears to be benefiting from having Khris Davis back in the lineup for protection. Lowrie went 2-for-5 with an RBI.
  • Chad Pinder – recorded his 13th RBI of the season.
  • The A’s went 3-for-6 with Runners In Scoring Position
  • Oakland had nine hits (four strike outs) and left six runners on base

Royals (5th-place AL Central 9.5 GB)

  • Jon Jay – the Royals leadoff/DH went 2-for-4 on Saturday. His leadoff single in the bottom of the first inning was his 14th of the season. He is now hitting .305 for the year. Jay also collected his 16th RBI of season in the game.
  • Jorge Soler – hit his ninth home run of the season and it was the fifth time one of his home runs has given the Royals the lead. It was also his fourth home run in eight games.
  • The Royals went 2-for-7 with Runners In Scoring Position
  • Kansas City collected eight hits and struck out 10 times. They left nine men on base.

Up next

On Sunday, it will be the “rubber game” of the three-game series. The Athletics will send RHP Daniel Gossett (0-3, 6.05 ERA). He is 0-2 since rejoining the A’s from Triple-A on May 23rd. The Royals are going to start RHP Jakob Junis (5-4, 3.61 ERA).

Astros Jump on Hammel Early to Top A’s 8-1

By Matthew Harrington

For the fourth time in as many outings, the Oakland Athletics lost a game started by trade acquisition Jason Hammel. In need of a win to keep the Los Angeles Angels over a game back entering play Wednesday afternoon, the A’s instead fell to the Astros 8-1 at Minute Maid Park. The Green and Gold (66-41) also dropped Monday’s contest in Houston 7-3, marking Wednesday as only the second series loss in 11 chances all-time against the Astros (44-64) since the start of interleague play and Houston’s move the American League last season.

Two starts removed from a brief two-inning July 19th start where the right hander yielded five runs against the Orioles, Hammel again found himself in early trouble Wednesday afternoon. The other starter acquired in the July 4th Jeff Samardzija blockbuster surrendered six runs in a six-hit first inning, then served up a two-run home run to Jon Singleton in the fifth for eight earned runs. Hammel (8-9, 3.87 ERA) struck out four, walked a trio of Astros and scattered seven hits in his 4 1/3 innings of work to take the loss. He has now allowed 18 runs over 17 innings with the Athletics.

The lone bright spot for the A’s came in the second inning after Josh Donaldson took the first pitch, an 88 mile-per-hour fastball, of the inning over the Crawford boxes in left field. Donaldson’s 23rd homer of the season was the only run Oakland scored off Astros starter Dallas Keuchel. The southpaw (10-7, 2.97) went the distance, notching five strikeouts and a scant three hits over his complete-game gem. Billy Burns went 0-for-4 in his first major league start in the leadoff spot for Bob Melvin with Coco Crisp still in Oakland after receiving an MRI on his neck Monday.

With the A’s idle Thursday, the Angels could pull a half-game back of Oakland by the time the AL West Leaders open up a 10-game homestand Friday night against the Kansas City Royals. The Halos, sitting two games back at the moment, play an evening game against the Baltimore Orioles Wednesday before wrapping up the four-game set at Camden Yards Thursday.

Opening Day starter Sonny Gray will open the weekend series for the A’s Friday night looking for a superhuman effort on a night when O.Co Coliseum will be lit up with a postgame super hero-inspired fireworks display. He’ll clash with the Royals’ Jeremy Guthrie in an attempt to save the dwindling AL-West lead from peril.

After three against the Royals, the surging Tampa Bay Rays roll into town (with or without hot trade commodity David Price) for a three-game set followed by a four-game series against former Athletic Kurt Suzuki and the Minnesota Twins. August 9th against the Twins, fans will receive a special Tony La Russa Hall of Fame bobblehead in honor of the legendary skipper’s induction into Cooperstown earlier this month.