Athletics

Instant Replay: Cotton tosses gem, A's blank Royals in series opener

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AP

Instant Replay: Cotton tosses gem, A's blank Royals in series opener

BOX SCORE

KANSAS CITY – Rising to the occasion in front of a packed crowd for the Royals’ home opener, Jharel Cotton delivered his finest start as a major leaguer.

The rookie limited the home team to two hits over seven innings as the A’s blanked Kansas City 2-0 to open a three-game series at Kauffman Stadium. Coming off a lackluster first start against the Angels, Cotton summoned the poise and command that marked his impressive September debut last season.

He was particularly dialed in with his changeup, getting Royals to chase his go-to offering all game. The odd 3:15 p.m. start (local time) made for mid-game shadows in front of the mound that made things no easier for hitters.

Cotton tied his career-high in innings pitched and enjoyed his first scoreless outing as a big leaguer. He struck out six and walked three.

The A’s got the only runs they would need on Khris Davis’ two-run homer off Ian Kennedy (0-2) in the fourth.

The afternoon began in emotional fashion for the Royals, who honored pitcher Yordano Ventura with a lengthy pregame ceremony. Ventura died in an offseason car crash in the Dominican Republic.

Starting pitching report

The Royals never advance a runner past second off Cotton (1-1). He struck out the side in the fifth, getting the Royals to wave at fastballs and off-speed stuff out of the zone. He benefited from a 5-4-3 double play to end the second and pitched around a leadoff walk in the seventh.

Bullpen report

The relief corps picked up where Cotton left off to salt away his victory. Santiago Casilla struck out the side in the eighth. With lefties due up for two of Kansas City’s first three hitters in the ninth, manager Bob Melvin called on Sean Doolittle for the ninth. A walk and a single, mixed in with strikeouts of Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer put runners on the corners with two outs. But Doolittle got former Athletic Brandon Moss swinging to end it.

At the plate

Davis got aggressive on a 3-0 count against Kennedy and hit a towering shot to right-center that rode the jet stream and carried over the wall for a two-run shot, his fourth homer of the season. The only other players with four homers to start the day were the Royals’ Salvador Perez and Houston’s George Springer.

In the field

The A’s missed out on a double play in the sixth on a replay reversal, as video showed Trevor Plouffe pulled his foot off the second-base bag while trying to make the turn. The third baseman was shifted over behind second base for the start of the play. Cotton got out of the inning unscored upon anyway.

Up next

After a day off Tuesday, the A’s and Royals resume this three-game series with a 5:15 p.m. game Wednesday. Andrew Triggs (1-0, 0.00), coming off a strong first start of the season, goes for the A’s with Jason Hammel (0-0, 5.40) throwing for Kansas City.

A's blow back-and-forth battle with the Royals, drop series

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USATSI

A's blow back-and-forth battle with the Royals, drop series

BOX SCORE

OAKLAND -- Alex Gordon hit a go-ahead RBI single in the top of the ninth after Oakland tied it in the bottom of the eighth, and the Kansas City Royals beat the Athletics 7-6 on Wednesday.

Alcides Escobar doubled to start the ninth against Blake Treinen (1-1), matching his season high with three hits. Then Gordon delivered his second run-scoring single of the series finale.

Oakland's Matt Chapman hit a tying two-run homer in the eighth against Brandon Maurer (1-1), who wound up the winner.

Lorenzo Cain hit a two-run homer in the fourth and Danny Duffy struck out eight over five innings but the Royals couldn't hold a late lead again before holding on - a day after squandering a four-run advantage in a 10-8 defeat.

Cain added a key RBI single in the eighth for the Royals, who began the day tied with Minnesota six games behind AL Central-leading Cleveland.

Kelvin Herrera finished for his 26th save in 29 chances after allowing Ryon Healy's two-out infield single.

Duffy's winless stretch reached four outings since a victory at Detroit on July 25. The left-hander earned his first major league win at Oakland on June 14, 2011, and has never lost to the A's - 3-0 in seven career appearances and six starts - but hasn't beaten them since April 10, 2012.

Marcus Semien hit a two-run homer in the third and Oakland got back in it on Jed Lowrie's two-run single in the fifth.

Kansas City's Melky Cabrera fouled a ball off his leg in the third and went down writhing in pain before recovering to hit a single on the very next pitch to load the bases with no outs. But Blackburn struck out Mike Moustakas and induced an inning-ending double play from Brandon Moss to escape unscathed.

A's starter Paul Blackburn was tagged for eight hits and four runs in four innings of his first career start against Kansas City, striking out two and walking three.

MINOR LEAGUE TRADE

The A's acquired lefty Sam Moll from Colorado for a player to be named later or cash then optioned him to Triple-A Nashville. Oakland added right-hander Chris Hatcher to the 25-man roster and he made his A's debut in the sixth inning, a day after coming to Oakland in a trade from the Dodgers. The A's optioned righty Josh Smith to Nashville and designated righty Zach Neal for assignment to clear 40-man roster space to add Moll.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Royals: RHP Joakim Soria - who allowed four straight hits in the eighth inning Tuesday night - is scheduled for an MRI on Thursday after stiffness in his lat and ribcage area to determine when he can pitch again. The reliever showed up to the Coliseum with discomfort. "He's been battling with it for two weeks, he's been pitching through it, he's been pitching very effectively through it," manager Ned Yost said. "But after last night he showed up more so than usual."

Athletics: Josh Phegley (strained left oblique) was slated to catch five or six innings in a rehab game for Triple-A Nashville at Tacoma. ... OF Jake Smolinski, on the disabled list since March 30 recovering from right shoulder surgery, isn't expected to be able to play in the outfield until "well into September," manager Bob Melvin said.

UP NEXT

Royals: RHP Ian Kennedy (4-8, 4.80 ERA) starts Friday at home against the first-place Indians trying to snap a 14-start winless stretch at Kaufmann Stadium since a victory vs. Minnesota on Aug. 20 last year.

Athletics: Following Thursday's day off, LHP Sean Manaea (8-7, 4.59) starts at Houston on Friday looking to end a five-start winless stretch in which he's 0-2 since beating Cleveland on July 16.

A's balldude leaves Royals reliever completely hanging after catch

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MLB Network

A's balldude leaves Royals reliever completely hanging after catch

All the Royals' reliever wanted to do was congratulate the A's balldude for making a nice play.

Instead, he got nothing but air.

In the bottom of the fourth inning Wednesday, A's outfielder Chad Pinder fouled a ball down the right field line. The young man in charge of protecting the opposing bullpen from foul balls made the catch just a few feet in front of the seated Royals relievers.

His first move was to go give the ball to a young fan. But he failed to notice one of the Royals relievers trying to give him some dap.

Here's the awkward sequence: