A crisply-played game with great defense behind solid pitching got derailed in the seventh, as Frankie Montas and Jesús Luzardo gave up consecutive three-run innings to the Royals on the way to a 6-1 Oakland loss Thursday night.
The A’s (37-26) were relying on a Jed Lowrie solo homer in the fourth to get them through but couldn’t add on anything else, as Oakland picked up their first loss of the nine-game homestand. Montas had one of his best starts of the season before falling into some bad luck in the seventh, and Former Athletic Mike Minor (W, 5-3, 4.50 ERA) reminded Oakland what they were missing.
Melvin said Minor did a really good job mixing all his pitches:
“He was unpredictable. He elevated his fast ball, had good command of it, pushed you back with enough fastballs in and then had a good curve and slider and changeup so he mixed his pitches really well. Seven innings, three hits, one walk, eight strikeouts means he pitched really well.”
Minor’s sole blemish was the solo shot to Lowrie, who led off the fourth. The only other A’s to get hits were Matt Olson, who had an opposite field line drive to left center to lead off the second inning, and Stephen Piscotty, who singled to right but was thrown out in a rundown trying to make it a double.
Minor made a great showcase for himself against his former team, allowing just one run on three hits. He threw 104 pitches in his seven innings where he struck out eight batters and walked only one, Elvis Andrus.
Montas pitched well most of the game but some rough plays and an error didn’t help his case. Montas had only given up singles to Carlos Santana and Kelvin Gutiérrez in the first two innings, but in the seventh, gave up a leadoff single to Andrew Benintendi before striking out Salvador Perez for the first out. Everything went downhill for the A’s from there, aside from it being his best start of the year.
Montas agreed with Melvin who said it was his best start so far:
“I feel like this is the best I have looked so far to be honest with you. Everything was working… I am just glad I feel good… Throwing strikes, having sequence, attacking the hitters, not walking guys and hitting my spots I feel like when I say this is one of my best outings, that is what I am talking about.”
Jorge Soler was 0-for-4 against Montas in his career but reached when Sean Murphy had a catcher’s interference to put two on and one out. Hunter Dozier hit a hard ground ball to Matt Chapman who tried to field it but the ball hit off his glove and rolled toward the A’s bullpen for a double and the game was tied 1-1. Gutierrez hit a soft blooper up the middle to clear the bases, giving his team a 3-1 lead and Montas’ not-so-shabby night came to an end. He allowed three runs, two earned, coming on five hits. He struck out eight and didn’t walk a batter.
Montas doesn’t blame his catcher for the error and said he still needs to make good pitches regardless. Melvin believes it was just unlucky and with a quiet offense they were doomed no matter what:
“Really bad luck. I mean, might’ve been some of the best stuff he had all year… I thought he pitched really well…That was probably some of his best velocity of the year that he kept all the way until the last inning. In those situations trying to get a ground ball and he did on both of them. Just kind of an unlucky hop and then one that found a hole up in the middle, but neither of them were really hard hit. When you don’t have a whole lot going on offensively no unlucky stuff like that can beat you.”
Burch Smith only needed six pitches to get the final two outs in the seventh before LHP Luzardo took the mound in the eighth. Luzardo had to face top of the order to a team on a five-game losing streak and was able to retire the first two batters. But Benintendi got the rally started with a solo bomb to left center to make it 4-1, then Perez doubled before Soler demolished the ball 425 feet to the same spot and before you knew it, it was 6-1.
Melvin said he was surprised the lefty didn’t out battle a lefty at the plate:
“He gets two outs and then a left-left homer which is kind of a surprise. We don’t expect that off him much but a ball that was kinda center cut and Perez hits one in the gap and all of a sudden we are looking at three runs there so it just kinda happened pretty quick after getting the first two outs.”
Luzardo threw just one inning and allowed three hits, three runs, two homers and didn’t strike out or walk a batter, but what felt like was still a hopeful game was quickly shattered.
Cam Bedrosian had not pitched since May 30 and he has not given up a run in 4-1/3 innings. He continued the trend thanks to a runners on the corners, one-out double-play. The A’s had top of the order for the ninth but it was a quick 1-2-3 inning for Greg Holland to end the game.
Montas was hard on himself after the game. He is usually all smiles but on his best start of the year, he was frustrated. He snapped the A’s three-game shutout streak but knows that is part of the game:
“It’s bad luck like obviously I am not happy with the results but its baseball man, this stuff happens.”
LHP Cole Irvin (4-7, 3.89 ERA) will make his lucky 13th start and battle the rubber against Brady Singer (3-5, 4.88 ERA) Friday night. First pitch set for 6:40 p.m. Irvin snapped his career-high losing streak (4) last Saturday in Colorado where he allowed just one run in six innings. Irvin has not faced the Royals since his Major League debut on May 12, 2019.