ISHINOMAKI, Japan -- Members of the Oakland Athletics and Seattle Mariners got a firsthand look at the devastation from the earthquake and tsunami on Tuesday when they visited one of the towns hit hardest by last year's disaster in Japan.Eight players and coaches from the Mariners and Athletics went to Ishinomaki on the northeast coast and later put on a baseball clinic for students affected by the catastrophe.More than 19,000 people in Japan were killed by the disaster on March 11, 2011. About 46 percent of Ishinomaki, a city of 150,000, was inundated by up 32 feet of water.Much of the city remains in ruins. Destroyed cars are stacked five or six high next to huge piles of wreckage that have yet to be cleared away. Many homes near the shoreline were washed away."There is an air of silence you have in the car when you drive through it and see it," Seattle manager Eric Wedge said. "That's just a small stretch. You picture that times 150 miles and its just pure devastation."Major League Baseball made a donation of 500,000 to the city to help in reconstruction efforts.After a bus tour of the disaster zone, the players conducted a baseball clinic with students from the area, many of whom had homes destroyed or lost family members."Of all the things I had to do here this is the one I wanted to do most," Oakland pitcher Tommy Milone said. "Obviously, we do clinics back home, but to be able to give back to these kids who have lost homes and family members is something special."Seattle pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma, who played last season in Sendai, the city closest to the disaster zone, got the biggest round of applause when the players were introduced at Ishinomaki Municipal Stadium."Meeting Iwakuma was awesome," said 11-year-old pitcher Masayuki Kondo. "He praised my pitching and told me I was doing a good job."The teams are in Japan to open MLB's 2012 season with games on Wednesday and Thursday at Tokyo Dome.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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: