KANSAS CITY –- The A’s got a two-homer performance from one of their lefty sluggers and still came away with a bitter late-inning loss at Kauffman Stadium on Friday night.
No, there wasn’t nearly as much riding on this 6-4 loss to the Royals as there was in last September’s A.L. Wild Card game. But there were similar elements, from the raucous crowd, to the A’s individual heroics, to the Royals getting key hits off the A’s bullpen in the late innings to steal a victory.
“This game brought back a lot of memories,” A’s catcher Stephen Vogt said. “… It was eerily similar to six months ago.”
It was Brandon Moss who lowered the boom on Kansas City with two homers and five RBI in the Wild Card game. On Friday it was Vogt, who tied the game with solo home runs on two different occasions off Jeremy Guthrie and doubled to facilitate another scoring rally.
With the game tied 4-4 in the bottom of the eighth, Salvador Perez singled and Paulo Orlando delivered an RBI triple off Dan Otero (0-1) to ignite a two-run rally that put the Royals in control.
That came an inning after both benches and bullpens cleared when the A’s Brett Lawrie slid hard into second base on a force play and injured the knee of Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar. After order was quickly restored, the play went to video review to see if Lawrie truly was out, which was the original call. The decision was upheld, though the A’s appeared to have an argument that Lawrie was safe.
That call helped to stymie an A’s rally with the game tied, though opportunity still presented itself. Mark Canha wound up striking out with runners on second and third to end the threat.
A’s manager Bob Melvin was puzzled afterward at how the force on Lawrie was not overturned.
“I still haven't seen anything to suggest he was out,” Melvin said. “To me, (Lawrie) beat him to the bag and he was lying on the bag. And if he came off at all, there was never a tag put on him, in my opinion.”
The night began with a tribute to A’s designated hitter Billy Butler, as the longtime Royal was presented with his American League championship ring from last season. Butler went 1-for-4 to extend his season-opening hitting streak to 11 games, longest in the American League.
The night ended with another frustrating loss at Kauffman Stadium for the A’s. The Royals scored three runs in the third on five consecutive two-out singles off Sonny Gray. One was a blooper that fell in left, two others were grounders that found holes through the right side.
“Honestly, if I pitched against these guys tomorrow, I don’t think I’d really change anything,” said Gray, who allowed a career-high 11 hits and four runs. “I feel like I made a bunch of good pitches, and everything they hit was seeming to sneak through.”
Rain is in the forecast for Saturday. If the weather ends up cooperating, the A’s will take their shot at reversing their recent, bitter history here.