The A’s completely dominated the Royals Saturday afternoon, scoring in six of eight innings as contributions from every Oakland player lifted the A’s to an 11-2 win over Kansas City.
Center fielder Skye Bolt had a tough start at the plate, striking out in his first three at-bats. But he made it all worth it in his final plate appearance, swinging at the first pitch from Wade Davis to lead off the eighth with his first major league hit and home run and start a five-run rally. Matt Olson was 4-for-5 with a homer, double and two singles.
Melvin was happy to have everyone contribute as the A’s have struggled to score in more than one inning this week. They have been riding the wave on three- to five-run innings but today they scored multiple. Melvin touched on it:
“We have been having trouble with, we will have a decent inning and we’ll go spurts without scoring or having good at bats but to see good at bats consistently throughout the game, scoring in multiple innings, that goes a long way for an offense that thinks that we have more in there offensively and I think a game like this does go a long way.”
The A’s didn’t take batting practice before the game but they sure did get it in when Jackson Kowar (L, 0-2, 36.00 ERA) took the mound to start the game and couldn’t get past the second inning. Tony Kemp and Matt Olson singled to put runners on the corners with one out before Mitch Moreland sacrificed in the A’s first run of the game. Back-to-back walks from Seth Brown and Sean Murphy loaded the bases with two outs, but Kowar escaped the inning down 1-0, leaving three men stranded.
Olson was on fire all game from on the field to at the plate and Melvin joked that it’s pretty clear he is a great player:
“You look at the strikeouts, you look at hitting the ball the other way, .285 seems like a .350 hitter now. He’s not just a pole homer guy now. He could hit the ball down the line, he can hit the ball to the left, hit the ball left center field, to hit it out of here to left center field, you’ve got to hit it pretty good….He’s a talented guy on top of that. It is kind of all coming together for him right now.”
Friday night’s hero Elvis Andrus singled up the middle and Kemp followed with a walk to start the second. Matt Chapman doubled off the wall in left field to drive in two runs, Kemp ran for his life and scored from first on the play to make it 3-0. Olson also hit a double, Chapman scored and it was quickly 4-0. Kowar was relieved by Ronald Bolanos who retired the next two batters and kept the A’s at four runs. Kowar allowed four runs on five hits, walked three and struck out one batter in his 1-1/3 innings. He threw 57 pitches with just 29 strikes.
Chapman had been struggling two months in and has made some adjustments to allow him to be successful during the Royals series. He worked his way up to the two hole and batted behind his buddy Olson for the first time in a long time. Chapman talked about on how his confidence has improved, and reminded everyone it has only been eight months since his surgery:
“When you don’t get the results that maybe you work for and you put the work in and don’t get the results, sometimes it’s frustrating. I think when you go on bad stretches, it is easy to let that frustration build up. So for me to get a little bit of success and maybe slow it down a little bit, helped. ..For me, it’s not so much as it is the personal stats. I just want to help the guys win and we’ve got a good team. We’re in first place so I want to do what I can to help. When I feel like I am not helping, it just gets frustrating. So to be able to put a couple good games together like this and feel like I contributed, makes me feel good.”
James Kaprielian (W, 3-1, 2.51 ERA) seemed to thrown nothing but strikes, even striking out the side in the second. The first Royals hit of the game came in the third when Jarrod Dyson singled and two walks followed to load the bases. Kaprielian escaped his first jam scoreless, leaving three men stranded in the third. He did the same in the fourth. Kelvin Gutiérez tripled to right center and back-to-back walks loaded the bases with one out. Cam Gallagher flew out to right and Seth Brown quickly made a beautiful throw home to prevent a run from scoring. Kaprielian threw six scoreless, struck out seven, allowed two hits and walked four.
Chapman spoke highly about his close friend, teammate and lights-out starter:
“The big leagues is definitely a tough environment to have success in and to be able to come up and his first 5, 6, 7 starts or whatever it has been, to give us an opportunity to win every game or at least be in the game, is all we can ask for. The fact that he has gotten into some tough situations, whether it’s been bases loaded, no outs, or one out you know he’s been on the ropes a couple times and he always seems to find his way out of it. That just shows he is composted and able to pitch in those moments and find ways to get outs. Those are big innings and change momentum for sure when you leave them out there like that and we get to go in there and hit.”
In the fifth, Brown singled off Bolanos to center, Chad Pinder drew a full-count walk, then Andrus hit a line drive to center to make it 5-0. Carlos Hernández relieved Bolanos with two outs and runners on the corners and struck out Skye Bolt to end the inning.
LHP Jesús Luzardo took the mound for the A’s in the seventh and redeemed himself from his three-run inning in his last relief appearance Thursday. Luzardo walked a batter in the seventh and gave up a leadoff single in the eighth before Gutierrez hit his first home run of the season, a two-run shot to left that put the Royals on the board. Sergio Romo relieved Luzardo and tried to get the final out with a 6-2 lead and he did so, after giving up a single.
Chapman hit a solo shot (6) to the opposite field off Hernandez in the sixth to make it 6-0. Both Matts picked up hits off Hernandez; Olson had a three-hit game. Josh Staumont pitched a perfect seventh for Kansas City.
Wade Davis took the mound in the eighth and it looked like Kowar was back on the mound. The first pitch he threw was Bolt’s very first major league home run. Davis gave up back-to-back singles to Kemp and Chapman before Olson cleared the bases with a three-run homer to left which made it 10-2. Pinder sacrificed the eleventh run and the A’s batted around the order and scored five runs that inning.
Melvin touched on the rookie’s first homer:
“Your first home run probably going to get some calls and maybe a few texts on his phone today. To hit it out of here to center field on a line like that after punching out a couple of times and that’s a tough thing to follow up. So it’s good that he’s got that out of the way now too. And you could just see he’ll ooze a little bit more confidence now after striking out a few times, hitting a home run like that you can settle in a little bit. He’s only had two starts and finished a couple of games defensively, but that goes a long way in making you feel comfortable when you hit a ball like that.”
Cam Bedrosian pitched a perfect ninth.
Oakland A’s will use ace Chris Bassitt (6-2, 3.44 ERA) for the final game of the four-game series on Sunday. LHP Kris Bubic (1-3, 3.32 ERA) will take the rubber for the Kansas City Royals. The Chris-Kris battle will begin at 1:07 p.m. Bassitt is looking for his seventh win of the year as well as extending a career-high six-game win streak to in his fourteenth start of 2021.