Jorge Soler hit his 45th home run of the year to tie Mike Trout for the American league lead as the Royals steal one in the ninth from Oakland, 6-5.
With the lines from the game yesterday between the Chiefs and Raiders still painted on the outfield grass, Kansas City paid homage to its stadium neighbor’s speed in the top of the first. After Whit Merrifield opened the frame with his league-leading 194th hit on the season, Adalberto Mondesi smoked a liner into the right-center field gap and churned all the way to third base for his 10th triple of 2019. Though plating Merrifield on the play, Mondesi was left stranded on third, holding the Royals’ lead at one.
Making Kansas City pay for its mistakes in the bottom half, the Athletics’ hitters jumped all over Glenn Sparkman. Facing Matt Olson with runners at the corners and one out, Sparkman served up a double down the left field line, scoring two.
In the ensuing inning, Alex Gordon saved the Royals’ starter a run and some pitches on a fantastic play at the wall. Timing his jump perfectly, the five-time gold-glover brought back a Jurickson Profar home run.
However, the damage control would be short-lived. Two batters later, Marcus Semien padded to his stats against the Royals. Demolishing a 3-0 pitch to dead-center field, Semien’s two-run blast extended Oakland’s lead to 4-1 before Sparkman managed five outs.
With the night spiraling out of control for Kansas City, Jorge Soler suddenly woke up the bats in the fourth. Obliterating, and I mean OBLITERATING a ball off the windows of the suites in left-center field, the Cuban-slugger cut the lead back down to two. His mammoth shot traveled an estimated 447 feet at 109 mph. And since the Royals played in a football stadium, Soler mashed it across one and a half football fields! The solo shot tied him with Mike Trout, who is out for the year, for the American League lead in home runs at 45.
Later in the top half, Kansas City loaded the bases with nobody out against Tanner Roark. Hoping to tie the game at least, Ryan O’Hearn, Meibrys Viloria, and Brett Phillips all struck out on 3-2 pitches. However, Phillips was hosed by home plate umpire C.B. Bucknor on the called third strike to end the inning.
Tough strike three call there on Phillips pic.twitter.com/l5Wokh6qDe— Cody Tapp (@codybtapp) September 17, 2019
In the top of the fifth, the Royals finally solved their woes with runners in scoring position. With two outs and runners at second and third, Gordon pulled one through the hole between first and second to tie the game off former Royal Jake Diekman.
Knotted up for the first time on the night, Kansas City put its faith in the bullpen to finish out the game. After Sparkman exited at 4 1⁄3 innings, allowing four earned runs on six hits, Tim Hill came on in relief. Working one inning while recording a punchout, Hill handed it off to Scott Barlow for the last of the sixth and seventh. Like Hill, Barlow had a clean outing, striking out two in an 1 2⁄3 innings.
Unable to put together much since the fifth inning, the A’s finally tagged the Kansas City bullpen for a run. In the bottom of the eighth, Gabe Speier allowed a lead-off double to Olson. Only brought in for a lefty-lefty matchup, Kevin McCarthy was handed the ball to escape the jam. Getting the first out, the Royals’ fifth pitcher of the night was unable to return to the dugout unscathed. With one out, Khris Davis poked an RBI-single up the middle to give Oakland the lead, 5-4.
In the top of the ninth, Kansas City would have the bottom of the order due up. After Viloria was cut down swinging, Phillips approached the plate with redemption on his mind. Working the count to 2-0, Phillips crushed a fastball high over the wall in right-center to tie the game at five.
Turning it over to the top of the lineup, Merrifield smashed a line drive to to deep center field that popped in and out of the glove of Ramón Laureano. Ending up at second, Mondesi wasted no time in driving him home on a go-ahead-RBI-double down the left-field line. Reclaiming the lead at 6-5, Ned Yost gave Ian Kennedy the ninth.
Allowing Semien to reach to open the inning, Kennedy regrouped and managed to sit down the final three for his 30th save of the year. Ending their brief three-game slide, the Royals improved to 56-95 on the season and Yost recorded his 1,200 win as a manager. Tomorrow, Jorge López will face off against Brett Anderson. First pitch is slated for 9:07 p.m. CST.