Brandon McCarthy was on his way to a pretty solid start that would hopefully lead the A’s to an important victory at Kauffman Stadium as the game entered the 7th inning tonight. But Kauffman has proven itself to be a mighty house of horrors for the A’s this year. After their 3rd shutout in 4 games last night, the A’s coughed up a 2-1 lead on the heels of a string of 3 straight Royals 2 out doubles by Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain, and Chris Getz to give them the 3-2 lead they would eventually earn the victory with. This was a game that the A’s really could have and should have won, but they found a way to drop it. It could be worse though, they could be the Tampa Bay Rays or San Francisco Giants who I think it’s safe to say had worse days.
TURNING POINT: The fact of the matter was that the A’s had plenty of opportunities to extend their 2-1 lead, the most obvious chance came in the top of the 6th inning. Jonny Gomes led off the inning with a walk, and Yoenis Cespedes singled to put runners at 1st and 2nd with nobody out. Chris Carter came to the plate and hit a grounder that erased Cespedes at 2nd but moved Gomes to 3rd. The A’s still had a chance to score a run without a base hit, but Derek Norris wasn’t able to put a ball in play, and Josh Donaldson popped up the first pitch he saw to quietly end the threat. Not long after came the fateful inning where the Royals did cash in on their chances and stole this game from the A’s.
ON THE HILL: In his second start back from the DL Brandon McCarthy had mostly shut down the Royals offense save for a single run in the 1st inning, but he couldn’t quite put away Eric Hosmer or Lorenzo Cain and they made him pay. Overall McCarthy pitched 6.2 innings and allowed 7 hits, 3 runs (2 earned) without walking anyone and striking out 4. Sean Doolittle allowed the hit to Chris Getz that gave the Royals the lead before retiring the side. Pat Neshek pitched a scoreless inning while working around a hit and a walk without striking anyone out. This was overall one of the more solid performances the A’s staff has turned in for quite a few games, so that fact has to be encouraging for the team.
AT THE PLATE: Aside from Chris Carter (2-4 with a run scored) and Josh Donaldson (2-4 with a solo HR) the A’s really didn’t swing the bats well. The lineup that was without Josh Reddick because of a tooth ache (I know that stuff is painful, but seems fitting an A’s player misses a game because of a tooth ache. What’s next? Cespedes sits because of an eyelash in his eye? I kid, I kid.), Jemile Weeks sitting out, and Brandon Inge on the DL with the shoulder sprain surely looks very reminiscent of the weak lineups we saw during the first two months of the season. I know Weeks hasn’t contributed a whole lot this year with the bat, but on a given day he still can be a strong catalyst for the A’s offense. Brandon Moss did drive in the A’s first run, but that was his lone contribution today. Overall, a weak performance yet again for the 3rd game in a row, they need to wake up tomorrow or else this could be a sign of bad things to come.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Much like many instances during this game, today’s loss represented a huge missed opportunity. A win today would have pulled the A’s to within 5 games of the Texas Rangers in the AL West, and would’ve pulled them back to within a 1/2 game of the Rays for the 2nd wildcard spot. It’s incredibly unclear right now if the A’s are indeed going to be able to stay in this race for the duration of the season and have a shot to make the playoffs. If they don’t they run the risk of joining the likes of the Toronto Blue Jays, the Boston Red Sox, and the Cleveland Indians as teams who were once in the race but have faded to the back of the pack. It is imperative that the A’s win tomorrow to help get the bitter taste of this rough road trip out of their mouths. Dan Straily will take the mound for the 3rd time in his big league career after giving up 4 longballs to the Angels in his last start, he comes in with a 5.06 ERA in his 2 starts so far without his first MLB win, he’ll be opposed by the talented but not yet successful Luke Hochevar who is 7-10 with an ERA of 5.32. Hochevar hasn’t beaten the A’s in his career and has an ERA of 6.96, but if you go by the first two games of this series, the A’s offense will be shut down by yet another starter with a sky high ERA. Let’s hope they stop that trend tomorrow night.