OAKLAND, Calif. -- First things first. The Royals’ 13-2 loss to the Oakland A’s on Friday at McAfee Coliseum was bad, really bad.
But it wasn’t that bad until the very end.
The A’s blew the game open by scoring eight runs in an excruciating eighth inning against Yasuhiko Yabuta and Hideo Nomo.
And, yes, that was horrific.
Before that, it was just plain bad.
Royals starter Brian Bannister pitched around one misplay by left fielder Mark Teahen, but a second one proved too much. Especially since the Royals’ offense went into hibernation after Billy Butler’s latest base-running misadventure.
Maybe the Royals survive Teahen’s misplay or Butler’s blunder and keep Yabuta and Nomo on the bullpen bench. Maybe. But get away with soft defense and bad base-running?
Oakland starter Chad Gaudin, in contrast, worked seven strong innings before Santiago Casilla and Andrew Brown closed out the victory. A’s closer Huston Street was warming before that eight-run eighth.
Gaudin, 1-1, held the Royals to two runs and four hits, and one of those runs was unearned. He sure didn’t look like a guy who had allowed nine runs in 10 innings in his two previous starts.
Even so, the Royals carried a 2-1 lead into the Oakland sixth before everything fell apart.
The A’s loaded the bases with three straight singles to start the sixth. Bobby Crosby then hit a drive to left that fooled Teahen, fell for a two-run double and finished Bannister, who had won his first three starts while allowing just two earned runs in 21 innings.
Teahen misplayed a Crosby drive in the fourth, which put runners at second and third with one out, but Bannister pitched out of the jam.
This time, things only got worse.
Ron Mahay replaced Bannister and allowed both inherited runners to score. Mahay yielded a sacrifice fly to Travis Buck and an RBI single to Jack Hannahan before Joel Peralta got the inning’s final out. All that gave the A’s a 5-2 lead. Bannister, 3-1, was charged with five runs in five innings, got the loss and saw his ERA spike from 0.86 to 2.42.
That four-run sixth was enough, really. The eighth was piling on.
Yabuta issued four walks and an infield hit. Nomo gave up a pop-fly double to Emil Brown, that should have been caught; an infield single and a booming three-run homer by Crosby. The A’s sent 11 hitters to the plate in the eighth.
Crosby finished with a career-high five RBIs. Brown had two singles, a double and three RBIs. It was his routine pop to short left that fell for a two-run double in the eighth.
The loss dropped the Royals to 9-8 and kept them winless on Friday at 0-3. They are also 0-2 on Saturdays heading into this afternoon’s game.
Oakland had not scored more than two runs in any of its previous five games. A revamped lineup mustered 15 hits.
Danger signs flashed early when Bannister needed 25 pitches to get through the first inning, although he limited Oakland to one run _ Brown produced a two-out RBI single.
The A’s thus joined the Twins as the only opponent to score first against the Royals through 17 games. The Twins did it four times in six games between the two clubs.
The Royals pulled even in their second after Alex Gordon whacked a two-out double into the right-center gap. Ross Gload followed with a squibber that scooted past Gaudin.
Hannahan charged from third and tried a bare-hand grab and throw _ and threw wild to first. Gload was credited with a single but no RBI when Gordon came around to score.
The Royals grabbed a 2-1 lead in the fourth but might have done more if Butler doesn’t get thrown out for the fifth time this year while trying to take an extra base.
Tony Peña led off with a single, and Mark Grudzielanek drew a one-out walk. Butler lined a two-out RBI single to left but tried to take second on the throw home and was cut down easily. That play, effectively, shut down the Royals’ attack. Gaudin retired the next 12 hitters before handing the game to the Oakland bullpen. To reach Bob Dutton, Royals reporter for The Star, call (816) 234-4352 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.