There was plenty of blame to go around on Monday after the Oakland Athletics’ stunning 6-5 loss to the Kansas City Royals, one that prevented the Athletics from adding on to their lead in the American League (AL) wild-card race.
Athletics center fielder Ramon Laureano committed a costly error in the ninth inning. Athletics manager Bob Melvin decided to lift hot-hitting first baseman Matt Olson for a pinch-runner in the eighth inning.
However, Athletics pitcher Liam Hendriks pointed the finger at himself. Royals outfielder Brett Phillips hit a tying home run off Hendricks in the ninth, shortstop Adalberto Mondesi followed with an RBI double and the Royals beat the Athletics and ended their six-game winning streak.
“It felt like I was making some pitches when I needed to, but not enough,” Hendriks said. “I fell behind a couple times and had to kind of groove them a fastball. At the end of the day, I didn’t get the job done and the team paid for it.”
The Athletics’ lead over the Tampa Bay Rays for the top AL wild card was cut to one game. The Cleveland Indians are 1-1/2 games behind the Rays.
Athletics left fielder Khris Davis’ RBI single off Royals pitcher Kevin McCarthy (4-2) gave Oakland a 5-4 lead in the eighth inning.
Phillips homered on a 2-0 fastball from Hendriks (4-3) with one out in the ninth inning — Hendriks’ sixth blown save in 28 chances.
“The ball was down the middle to Phillips and Mondesi hit a pretty good pitch the other way for a double,” Melvin said. “He’s been absolutely fantastic for us. Every now and then you’re going to blow a save.”
Royals second baseman Whit Merrifield reached when Laureano allowed his drive to pop out of the pocket of his glove at the front of the warning track for an error. Mondesi sliced an opposite-field double to left field.
“Just looked like he turned around and once he turned back around, he just picked it up a little late,” Melvin said.
Athletics shortstop Marcus Semien singled leading off the bottom half, but Royals pitcher Ian Kennedy retired his next three batters for his 30th save in 35 chances, giving the Royals’ Ned Yost his 1,200th win in 16 seasons as a major league manager.
Kennedy struck out the Athletics’ Chad Pinder to end it. Pinder had replaced Olson in the batting order.
At 56-95, the Royals are trying to avoid their second straight 100-loss season.
“That’s a good team over there,” Yost said. “It’s hard to fall back four runs early because you know runs are going to be tough to come by.”
Also on Monday, it was:
‧ Cardinals 4, Nationals 2
‧ Cubs 8, Reds 2
‧ Brewers 5, Padres 1
‧ Twins 5, White Sox 3
‧ Rockies 9, Mets 4
‧ Tigers 5, Orioles 2
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