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A’s edge Royals 2-1, Hendriks slams door in ninth

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A massive Matt Olson massive home run and Mark Canha getting pegged right afterward helped spark momentum for the A’s after six scoreless innings and lifted Oakland to a 2-1 win Tuesday night.

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Seth Brown‘s double helped carry the A’s (91-61) 2-1 over the Royals (56-96), as Liam Hendriks got redemption after last night’s loss and closed the game with a perfect ninth inning.

This story has been updated with quotes and post-game material from the A’s clubhouse at the Oakland Coliseum.

It was the complete opposite from Monday night in Oakland: a fast-paced and low-scoring game. It was a scoreless game up until the fifth inning when Royals Ryan McBroom doubled to the right field corner. Cheslor Cuthbert followed with a single to center to give the Royals their one and only run.

It was the lefty Olson’s second longest career home run at 450 feet. He blasted a shot over the center field suites in the second level deck to tie the game 1-1. Then Canha, who seems to always be the guy to get hit by a pitch, was pegged right after the dinger. Seth Brown delivered an RBI double in the gap in right-center to make it 2-1.

Bob Melvin on the win tonight and the seventh inning comeback:

“He [Olson] inspired it, no doubt. Canha gets hit on the next pitch which was terrible. Then Brown followed up with a double and scored him and I think if Mark was held up he would have knocked Matt (Cather, Williams) over and everyone else over on the way to home plate after getting hit after a homer like that, it was kinda weak.”

Olson would always respond that his favorite home run of all time was hids 483-foot dinger in Philadelphia. Tonight, he hit one and felt good about it:

“I have never even hit one up there in BP so I was a little shocked that it made it up there… I am glad we got the spark. If hitting Mark was intentional then it definitely added to the spark and we got the win.”

Olson’s only hit of the night was the biggest of the night. He now leads the A’s and the American League first basemen with 35 home runs this season. Canha has been hit by a pitch 17 times this season, tied with Shin-soo Choo for most in the AL and fourth most in A’s history.

Jorge Lopez (L, 4-8, 5.93 ERA) was relieved after Browns double by Jacob Barnes, who struck out Khris Davis to give the Royals their first out.

Whit Merrifield made a bad decision fielding a routine grounder from Jurickson Profar, but it didn’t impact the game. Merrifield decided to try to get Brown, the lead runner out at third, but Brown was safe. Grossman was walked to load the bases, but the Royals were able to get out of a one-out, bases loaded situation.

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Brett Anderson pitched five complete innings and gave up the run in the fifth off two hits. Anderson struck out two and allowed up five hits and one run. A.J Puk (W, 2-0, 1.93 ERA) pitched two innings with two strikeouts and one hit. Joakim Soria and Hendricks pitched perfect innings to keep the Royals from making a comeback.

The A’s have been using their relievers to help carry the workload of the starting pitchers. They have been coming in during the fifth or sixth inning rather than letting the starters go as long as they can.

Bob Melvin explained the strategy:

“Brett really didn’t do anything wrong but when we go into these types of games we time script it and let everyone know how it is going. So at least they are not suprised.”

Melvin said it must be frustrating for starters, but it has been working out and allows the younger pitchers to know when they will come in and to be able to start at the beginning of an inning.

Brett Anderson pitched well, needing only 66 pitches through five innings. He said he felt good and did what he needed to do to help the team win:

“I would be lying if I said I didn’t want to go longer but having a couple lefty’s throw upper 90’s after you is never a bad option. As a starter you are kinda engrained to go as deep as you possibly can and to not throw very many pitches but that is just the way it has been working out these last couple times but body feels good, the arm feels good but whenever they tell me I am done, I am done.”

Joakim Soria pitched a perfect inning and has not allowed a run in his past five games. Hendriks had a perfect ninth inning and after tonight, has the most strikeouts in a season by any A’s relief pitcher with 116 strikeouts and recorded his 23rd save.

Notes

The Tampa Bay Rays and the Cleveland Indians both won on Tuesday, making Tuesday night’s win huge for the A’s as they retain their one-game lead for the top Wild Card position.

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