By Morris Phillips
It’s been awhile since the A’s have given as good as they’ve got with the season falling off most measurable charts after an 8-6 start devolved into a 24-49 June reality.
But on Sunday afternoon, they’ve gave and got change back and a dose of respect. In a game the A’s led 2-0, then trailed 3-2 briefly, before rebuilding a 4-3 lead in the seventh and 5-3 in the ninth, they held on. Lou Trivino was given another opportunity to close and he did–with the tying runs in scoring position–retiring the last two batters in a 5-3 win over the Royals.
The A’s avoided a ninth, consecutive series loss and won the final two games in Kansas City after losing 3-1 on Friday night. The win also reveals a weird juxtaposition in which the A’s are 4-19 in series openers but are 11-12 in the finales, which suggests this inexperienced clubs needs time to adjust to new surroundings.
Next up, the adjustment gets a little bit speedier with Oakland traveling to New York for a four-game set against the Yankees, who could be a bit cantankerous following a 3-4 week and some tough contests with the AL West-leading Astros. The A’s will be trying to avoid an 11th consecutive series-opening loss on Monday night.
Starting pitcher James Kaprelian set the tone by pitching into the sixth inning, and allowing just two hits. In the sixth, Kaprelian gave up consecutive walks to Andrew Benintendi and Bobby Witt Jr. to load the bases, and was relieved by Sam Moll. But after striking out MJ Melendez, Moll allowed consecutive RBI base hits to Carlos Santana and Edward Olivares to put the Royals in front 3-2.
“He almost ended up on the wrong side of it with a fluke hit that falls in thankfully we were able to get him off the hook and get him a win,” manager Mark Kotsay said of Kaprelian.
Olivares’ hit produced a scary moment when a stumbling Jonah Bride ran into outfielder Chad Pinder, felling both A’s for several minutes. But miraculously, given the intensity of the collision, both appeared okay, although Bride did leave the game at that point.
Nick Allen’s single to center scored two runs in the top of the seventh, allowing the A’s to regain the lead for good. That rally was set up when Royals’ starter Brady Singer attempted to field a potential double play ball, and had it glance off his mitt, then away from infielder Whit Merrifield, putting A’s on second and third with two outs.
The A’s gained insurance–itself a rarity for the A’s in their 9-29 slide–with a ninth inning Pache RBI single, and then manager Mark Kotsay called on Lou Trivino to close it out.
Lou let me know he was good for one inning and I let him know that if that was the case he’d be in the ninth,” Kotsay said. “Obviously it wasn’t easy but he got the job done.”
Paul Blackburn and New York’s Jordan Montgomery are the announced starters for Monday’s opener at Yankee Stadium.