The A’s experienced the kind of good fortune during Thursday’s game that suggested victory might be in the cards.
Then things unraveled – quickly – in the bottom of the seventh against the Kansas City Royals, and they were left to digest a 7-3 defeat that capped a forgettable four-game series at Kauffman Field.
The Royals struck for five runs in the seventh to erase a 3-2 Oakland lead, and much of the damage came off reliever Ryan Cook, who saw his 20-inning scoreless streak come to an end.
The A’s dropped three of four to Kansas City, and they’ve lost four of their past five as they move on to Atlanta for a three-game interleague series against the Braves.
Trailing 2-1 in the sixth, the A’s were handed a gift when Royals center fielder Jarrod Dyson lost Josh Reddick’s fly ball in the sun with two outs. That went for a triple and allowed Stephen Vogt to score all the way from first with the tying run. Alberto Callaspo followed with a go-ahead single to right and Oakland suddenly led 3-2.
In the bottom half of that inning, Oakland benefited from Alcides Escobar being called out for running inside the baseline on a bunt attempt. Catcher John Jaso’s throw got past Vogt at first base, and had the (correct) ruling not been made, Escobar would have wound up on second with no outs.
It didn’t matter, as the Royals finished off a satisfying series in front of their home fans. They remain deadlocked with the Detroit Tigers for first place in the American League Central.
Much of the A’s troubles in recent days can be traced to their unproductive offense. And while they didn’t knock the cover off the ball Thursday, there were enough breakdowns in other areas to spread the blame around.
Starting pitching report
The Royals’ five-run rally began off A’s starter Jeff Samardzija (3-2. The right-hander took a 3-2 lead into the bottom of the seventh, but with one out, Erik Kratz singled to left and Christian Colon doubled to left to put runners on second and third as Cook came on in relief.
Samardzija was charged with four runs (three earned) over 6 1/3 innings. He gave up eight hits, struck out five and walked none. He was ticked at himself as he left the mound in the fourth, when he gave up Mike Moustakas’ two-out RBI single that gave Kansas City a 2-1 lead right after the A’s had tied it in the top half of the inning.
Cook didn’t inherit an enviable situation in the seventh, with runners on second and third and one out and Oakland clinging to a 3-2 lead. He got ahead of Jarrod Dyson 0-2, then Dyson fouled off two fastballs at 96 and 97 miles per hour. Cook came in with a changeup and Dyson singled to right to score Lorenzo Cain and tie the score. Then Nori Aoki jumped on a first-pitch fastball and lashed a two-run triple down the right ffield line that made it 5-3 Royals. That snapped a string of 21 consecutive outings in which Cook was not charged with a run.
He walked Escobar, and after Fernando Abad came in to strike out Alex Gordon, Luke Gregerson entered and surrendered Billy Butler’s two-run single.
At the plate
A day after beign shut out by Jason Vargas, the A’s notched 11 hits, but they couldn’t make the most of them.
They tied the game in the fourth off James Shields when Brandon Moss singled, went to third on Josh Reddick’s double and scored on Callaspo’s sacrifice fly.
Down four runs in the ninth, the A’s loaded the bases with two outs and Brandon Moss stepped to the plate representing the tying run. But he flied out to left on the first pitch he saw from Royals closer Greg Holland to end it.
In the field
If baseball karma is your thing, you might believe that Dyson’s adventures on Reddick’s fly ball were payback for the eyebrow-raising back flip he did after catching the final out in Monday’s win over the A’s. At any rate, Dyson made up for it with his game-tying single in the seventh.
It was an adventurous day in the field for both clubs. In the third, Kansas City’s first scoring rally was aided by an error from A’s second baseman Alberto Callaspo, who lost the handle on the ball after a diving stop, which allowed Kratz to advance to third. He scored on Dyson’s sacrifice fly.
The A’s benefited from Escobar being called out for running inside the base line on an apparent bunt single, but another call went against them in the Royals’ go-ahead rally in the seventh. On a pickoff attempt to third, it appeared that pinch-runner Lorenzo Cain might have taken his hand off the bag as Josh Donaldson tagged him. The A’s asked for the play to be reviewed, but the call was upheld, and Cain wound up scoring the tying run on Dyson’s single.
The A’s head to Atlanta to face the Braves for the first time since 2008. The three-game series begins Friday at 4:35 p.m., with Jason Hammel (1-4, 5.90) opposing Alex Wood (8-9, 3.08). On Saturday, Sonny Gray (12-6, 2.86) matches up against Julio Teheran (10-9, 3.06) in a 4:10 p.m. game. Sunday’s road trip finale pits Jon Lester (13-7, 2.51) against Mike Minor (4-8, 5.33), with first pitch at 5:07 p.m.