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A’s clipped in ninth by Royals, Wild Card lead stands at one game

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After three hours and 35 minutes, the Kansas City Royals did what most teams can’t seem to do: Score runs off Oakland A’s closer Liam Hendriks in the ninth. The Royals came back in the ninth to defeat the A’s 6-5.

A’s fans hopes were dashed after breaking a tie to take a one-run lead in the bottom of the eighth. They proceeded to give up two runs in the ninth inning to snap their six-game win streak.

This story has been updated to correct and clarify multiple aspects of this game’s play by play.

Hendriks was able to come into the ninth inning with just a one run cushion, but it was a rare off night for the Aussie.

Brett Phillips wasn’t ready to call it a night, and led off the ninth with a solo shot to tie the game 5-5, but the Royals weren’t satisfied with just a tie it. They rallied in another run to take the final lead of the game.

Hendriks explained how just because he bats last in the order doesn’t mean he isn’t a threat:

“He is one of those guys, he knows how to swing a bat. It might not look like it on his stat line but he obviously got to the big leagues somehow… Unfortunately I didn’t take advantage of those two pitches and he was able to make the third one.”

Hendriks started the ninth inning strong striking out lead off batter Meibrys Viloria. Whit Merrifield smacked a ball into deep center. Ramon Laureano who has been playing in right field ever since his leg injury in early September, was moved to center in the ninth after the A’s used a pinch runner.

Melvin said Laureano turned around a little too late and missed the ball. He trusted Liam would get the job done and talked about his decision to pinch run which shifted the dynamic of the defense:

“We just had to score one run. At first base, I don’t do it. At second base I do. And you know, we end up scoring a run that inning and like I said, we get to he ninth with the lead and it doesn’t happen very often with Liam.”

Laureano moved over to center after the A’s used a pitch runner and he was unable to catch the fly ball deep in center. The ball bounced off his glove while he chased it back near the warning track for a two base error that put the lead runner on second. Adalberto Mondesi hit a solid double deep into left to score Merrifield which gave the Royals their one-run lead that won the game.

Marcus Semien led off the bottom of the ninth with a hard hit ball to Hunter Doizer who could not field the ball and ruled a single. With the tying run on first and no outs, the A’s were unable to bring him in.

Hendriks is the A’s best reliever right now. Hendriks said it is part of the game and talked about the inning:

“It was a weird outing. I felt like I was making some pitches when I needed to but not enough. I fell behind a couple times and had to kinda groove my fastball. I don’t think I had the life I am used to today, but at the end of the day, I didn’t get the job done and the team paid for it.”

Matt Olson led off the eighth with a double to deep right field and Franklin Barreto pinch ran for Olson on second. But Mark Canha hit into fielders choice and Barreto was called out in a pickle trying to reach third. Birthday boy, Robbie Grossman was intentionally walked, then Davis singled to center to bring in Canha on second for the go-ahead fifth and final run of the night.

Both starting pitchers gave up four runs. Tanner Roark completed the night with eight strikeouts and seven hits one of them being a home run. Glenn Sparkman lasted 4 1/3 with six hits and just one strikeout. He ended the night two wild pitches and hit a batter. Kevin McCarthy recorded the win.

Tanner Roark’s first two at bats of the game but should tip his hat to Ramon Laureano for using his laser arm to prevent a two run inning. Whit Merrifiel led off the game with a line drive to left.  Adalberto Mondesi had an RBI triple to deep right-center. With no outs, Mondesi would remain stranded on third for the remainder of the inning.

Laureano made back-to-back beautiful throws from right field to home plate. One on a bounce and one perfectly to Sean Murphy’s chest at the plate. Both throws kept Mondesi from tagging up to score. Roark struck out Gordon for the final out to end the one-run inning.  

The A’s were able to score a pair of runs in the first and second inning and didn’t score again until Khris Davis‘s single in the eighth to give the A’s a 5-4 lead.

Semien led off the bottom of the first with a line drive up the middle for a single. Glenn Sparkman had a wild pitch and a balk during Ramon Laureano’s at bat to advance Semien to third, and Laureano walked.

With runners on the corners Matt Olson hit a line drive down the left field line that curved on the bounce and landed in the corner for a two-run double. Olson reached third on a wild pitch during Canha’s at bat who walked, but no one could bring them in. After seven A’s plate appearances, the A’s took the lead 2-1 in the first. 

In the second inning, rookie catcher Sean Murphy smashed the ball off the wall in left field for a double. Marcus Semien hit a rocket near the center field suite section to clear the bases and make it a 4-1 ballgame. His two-run homer gave him 31 this season, tying Miguel Tejada‘s 2001 record for most A’s shortstop home runs.

Jurickson Profar got robbed during his at bat in the second inning. He hit the ball deep into left field just over the wall near the 367-foot mark but Alex Gordon snagged it which kept the A’s from a 3-1 lead. Gordon’s catch may have been the best defensive play of the night aside from Laureano’s throws home in the first or Murphy throwing out Adalberto Mondesi trying to steal second to end the inning.

Roark was lucky to get out of the fourth inning with just one earned run. He gave up a solo homer to Jorge Soler who led of the inning to make it a 4-2 ballgame. Soler tied the AL MVP injured Mike Trouts home run record this season at 45. Roark loaded the bases after he gave up a double, hit a batter, and walked a guy with no outs. Roark struck out the next three to end the very dangerous fourth inning.

The Royals came back to tie it in the fifth. Merrifield was able to get a base hit just past Chapman. Sober hit a doubled to left-center to advance Merrifield to third with two outs. Roark was relived by Jake Diekman. Diekman pitched to Gordon who hit a two-run single to right field to bring in two runners and tie the game.

Up Next

LHP Brett Anderson (12-9, 4.07 ERA) faces Jorge Lopez (4-7, 6.09 ERA) Tuesday night at 7:07 p.m.

Notes

The Oakland loss and an off night for Tampa Bay cut the A’s lead for the top AL Wild Card spot to one game. … Sean Murphy caught a runner stealing to end an inning. … Jurickson Profar was robbed of a home run in left. … The A’s are now 81-2 when leading in the 8th inning.

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