On Monday night, the Oakland Athletics took their hot streak into Kansas City to face the sputtering offense of the Royals. Going up against former teammate Homer Bailey, who was traded to Oakland on July 14th, Kansas City would not only struggle at the plate, but in the field as well. Bludgeoned for 19 runs on 22 hits, the Athletics smoked the Royals before the sixth inning and proceeded to dismantle them by a score of 19-4.
To oppose Bailey was 24-year-old Brad Keller. Coming off a scoreless outing in which he managed to toss six frames, the right-hander would be on a pitch count for the evening and rest of the season. Already surpassing his 2018-season total in innings, manager Ned Yost wanted to keep Keller from elapsing 100 pitches in any more starts. In the top of the first, he looked well on his way to smooth and easy night, sitting down the A’s 1-2-3 with a punch out. However, disaster hit in the ensuing inning.
After striking out Matt Olson to begin the second, Keller was hurt by his command. Allowing two soft contact singles to follow the strike out, the right-hander suddenly lost the strike zone. Walking three consecutive hitters, Oakland jumped out in front 2-0. Struggling to find his command again, Keller left a mistake out over the middle to Marcus Semien, who pounded the gap in right-center field to clear the bases. Going just 1 1⁄3 innings and allowing five earned runs, the righty was relieved by Jorge López.
In the bottom half, the Royals broke through off Bailey. With two outs and nobody on, Bubba Starling snapped an 0-18 slump by dropping a single into center field. Brett Phillips piggybacked with a two-run blast around the pole in right field. The expected batting average on the pitch was .060.
That Brett Phillips home run had an xBA of .060— Patrick Brennan (@paintingcorner) August 27, 2019
Trailing 5-2 in just the third inning, López tried to keep the Oakland offense down. Unfortunately, the A’s hitters wasted no time teeing off on the Royals’ right-hander. Connecting for three straight singles, Oakland grabbed a run back to make it 6-2. A swinging bunt that was mishandled by López resulted in another. Before the frame could mercifully come to an end, Semien notched his fourth, fifth, and sixth RBI on a three-run bomb over the bullpen in left.
In the fourth, Kyle Zimmer came on to salvage some innings in what was only the first of a four-game set with the A’s. Surrendering a walk and two hits in the top half, Oakland grabbed another run for the third consecutive inning. On the bright side, Zimmer touched 99-mph on the radar gun.
Kyle Zimmer just hit 99 on the radar gun.— Jeffrey Flanagan (@FlannyMLB) August 27, 2019
Jorge Soler chipped in during the fourth with an RBI-single of his own. It padded to his career-high of 92 on the season.
Leaving the right-hander on for the fifth, things got much worse. Two singles from Josh Phegley and Robbie Grossman followed by two doubles from Matt Chapman and Olson pushed the A’s lead to 14-2. For Zimmer, his ERA spiked to 9.28 in what continues to be a dismal campaign during his first year at the major league level. Josh Staumont threw an 1 2⁄3 innings, recording three strikeouts but did allow a solo shot to Jurickson Profar. Scoring in a fifth straight inning, Yost got creative with his next man out of the bullpen.
Moving from left field to the mound, Alex Gordon came on for his first pitching appearance in his career. Yep, you read that right. Dropping down to a three-quarter arm slot, Gordon gave the fans who stayed a reason to smile.
Alex Gordon will pitch the seventh inning.— Jeffrey Flanagan (@FlannyMLB) August 27, 2019
Throwing 38 pitches over the course of 1 1⁄3 innings, Gordon allowed three runs. In the eighth, he was pulled for...Humberto Arteaga. As the second position player to throw off the rubber tonight, Arteaga became a part of history. The Royals’ had never pitched two position players in the same game until tonight. Arteaga did record the final five outs for Kansas City’s pitching staff. Whit Merrifield brought home the Royals’ fourth run in the ninth on a groundout.
Royals have never had two position players pitch in the same game— Shaun Newkirk (@Shauncore) August 27, 2019
Falling to 46-86, Kansas City will look to upend Oakland tomorrow despite the lopsided outcome on Monday. Mike Montgomery will go toe-to-toe with Mike Fiers. First pitch is scheduled for 7:15 CT.