I’m not sure what the Royals did to anger Frankie Montas, and I’m not sure how to rectify it.
Should they go for a team-wide exorcism? Sacrifice an animal? Find a pagan god of some kind and ask his favor? Whatever it is, the Royals need to do it ASAP before they see Montas again.
Over 7.2 innings Friday night, Montas struck out five, scattered six hits and allowed just two runs on the final swing he saw, yielding a two-run homer to Mike Moustakas in the eighth inning.
Two runs, as we all know, won’t really cut it for Royals pitching. Friday night was no different as the A’s took the second game of the series and guaranteed themselves no worse than a split with a 7-2 victory.
Jakob Junis got off on the wrong foot in the very first inning, yielding a solo home run to Khris Davis—the semi-good one, not the one on pace for the worst season in recorded history. That Davis homered on a sinker, moderately well-located at that, is probably of small consolation; an oppo-taco to right center got the A’s on the board first.
(According to Brooks Baseball, Junis has surrendered four homers through his four-seamer, four through his slider and now four on the sinker. The difference is he’s thrown more than 400 of each of the former and barely 250 of the latter.)
Okay, so inauspicious start. And the Royals chipped into Montas in the second, putting Alex Gordon and Hunter Dozier on via two-out singles. But (surprise!) Paulo Orlando grounded weakly to end the frame and Jorge Soler could not continue after fouling a ball off his big toe (or Great Toe, according to reports).
In the third, Dustin Fowler homered, his season’s fourth; he’s hit three against the A’s and honestly, between him, Tim Anderson and Matt Davidson, if you’re a young baseball player awaiting your breakout moment, just wait until the Royals blow through your town and get ready for three days of raking.
Davis homered to straight away center in the fourth. 818 feet worth of home run for him on the day.
Back-to-back one-out singles kept the line moving for the A’s in the fourth, with Jonathan Lucroy ultimately grounding a ball up the middle between Alcides Escobar and Ryan Goins for another run.
Junis had a long leash Friday night; in the sixth, he ran into another spot of bother that he couldn’t get out of, and this one ultimately chased him from the game. Marcus Semien knocked a one-out single, followed by Stephen Piscotty. Junis ran a 1-1 sinker down-and-in on Lucroy, but the veteran lined a double down into the leftfield corner to score both. Junis’ final line: 5.1 innings, 10 hits, six earned (tying a season-high), five strikeouts. His ERA is up to 4.05, the first time this season it has eclipsed 4.00.
Brian Flynn and Jason Adam pitched most of three largely uneventful innings; after Moustakas’ eighth-inning homer, the A’s capped a night’s worth of scoring with Semien tripling and scoring on Piscotty’s fielder’s choice/Escobar error.
I hate jumping back, but the eighth for the Royals also yielded one other opportunity that bears mentioning. Salvador Perez followed up Moose’s homer with a double and Abraham Almonte walked, bringing up Gordon, who was working on a 3-for-3 day at the time. Unfortunately, he inside-outed a grounder to short to end the inning and, for all intents and purposes, the game.
The Bright Spot: Late-game failure aside, I’ll always take three hits from Alex Gordon.
The Nadir: Alcides Escobar is 1-for-14 in the two-hole this season, bringing him to .248 lifetime in that spot. That includes an 0-for-4 Friday night. I DON’T THINK IT’S WORKING.
The Next Step: Danny Duffy got rocked on Monday, but that was against the Angels; surely he’ll do better against the A’s, right? (Just go with it.)
Oakland trots out Chris Bassitt. Bassitt is making his first big-league appearance since 2016 and is 2-11 with a 4.13 ERA in his major league career. He’s never thrown a complete-game shutout in his big-league career. First time for everything, I suppose.
(Or maybe the Royals will beat him like a piñata. All bets are off when the Royals and A’s get together, and I mean that in a very pandering, I-gotta-get-to-700-words kind of way.)