OAKLAND, Calif. | It was asking a little much Tuesday night for Luke Hochevar to overmatch big-league hitters in the same manner as his recent Class AAA success, butdang.
Hochevar gave up eight runs while lasting just two innings before getting a mercy hook as the Royals suffered their fourth straight loss in a 12-3 spanking from the Oakland A’s at the Oakland Coliseum.
However bad that reads, it was worse. And worse still for being so unexpected after Hochevar’s dominant form this season at Omaha in yielding just four earned runs in 40 innings over six starts.
This seemed the perfect transition game, too, for his return to the Royals’ rotation.
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Oakland entered the game ranked last among American League teams in runs, batting average, slugging percentage and on-base percentage. Before the game, anyway.
Hochevar, 0-1, surrendered one run in the first inning on Jason Giambi’s line-drive double into the left-center gap. Then came a seven-run nightmare in the second that Jack Cust climaxed with a booming three-run homer to the deepest part of the park in dead center field.
“It was not good at all,” Hochevar said. “You come up. You want to have a good start. I’ve been pitching wellI don’t think I’ve ever had a start like that. Then again, I’ve just got to flush it.”
Sidney Ponson, whom Hochevar supplanted in the rotation, took over in the third and, really, wasn’t much better. Ponson allowed two runs in the third and two more in the fourth.
Manager Trey Hillman then emptied his bullpen. Horacio Ramirez, Kyle Farnsworth, Ron Mahay and Robinson Tejeda each worked one scoreless inning.
Afterward, Hillman kept the clubhouse closed for several minutes for a meeting that stressed the need for the club to shake its current malaise.
“Today was a bad day at work,” he said. “It really was. It was situation where after an off day you want to get back on the winning track and, obviously, we didn’t pitch very well.
“I know the A’s have been waiting to wake those bats up. I’m not real excited about the fact it was us who did it.”
The Royals trailed 12-0 before Coco Crisp opened the fifth inning with a homer that just clawed over the right-field wall. That might suggest Oakland right-hander Trevor Cahill was just rolling along.
Not exactly. The Royals let him off the hook in the early innings.
They loaded the bases in the first on Crisp’s lead-off single and two-out walks to José Guillen and Billy Butler. But Cahill stranded all three runners when Mike Jacobs popped to short.
After Oakland gabbed its 1-0 lead, the Royals mounted a two-out threat in the second on singles by Mike Aviles and Crisp. But this one ended the same way. The only difference is this time it was David DeJesus who popped to short.
“We had our chances,” catcher John Buck said. “It wasn’t just Hoch’s fault.”
The A’s then sent 11 players to the plate in their jail-break second and, after that, it was over. Only the rules forced the teams to labor through seven more frames.
Cahill, 2-2, allowed two runs and seven hits in six innings before Dan Guise and Kevin Cameron and Jerry Blevins closed out Oakland’s 12th victory in 30 games.
The A’s finished with 13 hits, including three by Orlando Cabrera, who had four RBIs. Kurt Suzuki, Matt Holliday and Cust each had two hits.
Oakland had not scored more than nine runs in its 29 previous games but had 10 by the end of the third inning. The 12 runs were the most allowed by the Royals since a 12-5 loss at Cleveland on Sept. 12, 2008.
The loss actually kept the Royals, 18-15, from reclaiming first place because Detroit, 17-14, lost to Minnesota.
Crisp had three of the Royals’ 10 hits before leaving after 5½ innings. Jacobs’ high drive to right in the sixth boosted his club-leading totals to six homers and 20 RBIs. Not much else, though.
“We didn’t get anything rolling tonight,” Jacobs said. “We’re not going to panic. There’s a lot of baseball left, but we’ve got to put the brakes on the losing streak.”
Hochevar yielded one run in the first inning after not allowing an earned run in his last three starts at Omaha, a span covering 21 innings. Suzuki sliced a single that short-hopped a charging Guillen in right.
Giambi followed with a line double that plugged the left-center gap. Suzuki scored from first for a 1-0 lead.
It got far worse the Hochevar in the second inning after a one-out walk to Adam Kennedy. Travis Buck followed with a single through the right side before Jack Hannahan rocked an RBI double off the left-center wall.
Cabrera made it 4-0 with a two-run single past third baseman Mark Teahen.
The A’s were far from done.
A two-out walk to Giambi preceded an RBI single by Holliday that extended the lead to 5-0. Cust then launched a three-run homer to deepest center field.
And it was 8-0.
Ryan Sweeney sent a fly into short center that should have been the final out. Aviles retreated from short, DeJesus came over from left and Crisp charged in from center.
The three looked at one another. Crisp made a stab at the ball and dropped it for a two-base error. At least that didn’t lead to another run. Crisp ended the inning by with a nice running catch on Kennedy’s drive into left center.
So, yes, it could have been worse.
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