Baseball / Sports

A's crush Royals, 11-3, behind Donaldson's bombs

KANSAS CITY, Mo.--The Oakland A's thrashed the Kansas City Royals with 20 hits Tuesday night, including two monster home runs by Josh Donaldson. But their most impressive knock of the night went less than 90 feet.

It was Brandon Moss' gorgeous bunt single up the third base line in the fifth inning during an 11-3 Oakland bat-fest at Kauffman Stadium, and one of four hits for the heretofore scuffling cleanup man in the mass offensive onslaught.

Moss really cleaned up on this night. He doubled to deep center to drive in the first A's run in the first inning. And in addition to his bunt that contributed to a two-run rally, he also had two opposite-field singles, prompting manager Bob Melvin to dub him the new Wade Boggs.

"I told him, 'I don't even know you anymore,'" Melvin said.

Asked if he ever had a four-hit game where he didn't pull any of the pitches, Moss confessed, "I doubt it. I bunted --it was just a weird day all the way around, but it was a good day."

Moss, who can spend hours talking about his hitting--or lack thereof when he's slumping like he has for the better part of two weeks--and maintained his biggest at-bat may have come the night before, when he had a long bases-loaded battle with Royals rookie Yordano Ventura, worked to a 3-2 count, and finally lined a single into center field.

"To have that at-bat and come through for the team, it was a big weight off my shoulders," Moss said. "It felt like two months since I drove in a run, period."

Now he has five hits and four RBIs in his past two games. And he might have other teams starting to think twice about the shifts they employ against him, particularly if he can drop a beauty up the line now and then. Moss works on bunting every day, but he'd been dormant with it in games for awhile.

"Coming into the year I planned to do it more often," he said. "I got one down the opening series of the year, did it a couple other times and fouled it off, then did one in Miami where I bunted it to the pitcher and made an out. That pretty much shut it down."

Moss has noticed, however, that teams make their shifts on him when he falls behind in the count, and sure enough, when he fell behind 0-1, the Royals infield moved.

"I said, 'You know what? This is a good opportunity to do it, and if I don't get it down, I'll at least get the runner to second,'" he said. "It was kind of a no-lose situation."

The A's were in a no-lose situation for much of the night. They built a 6-0 lead behind Jon Lester over the first five innings and were having their way with Royals starter Jeremy Guthrie (8-10) en route to ending K.C.'s eight-game win streak. Lester, meanwhile, was looking thoroughly dominant again, allowing just two hits and a walk over the first four innings, striking out seven.

But then the left-hander hit a rough patch in the fifth, starting with a leadoff four-pitch walk, and subsequently gave up three runs. It got the Royals back in the game again briefly, until Donaldson decided to play Home Run Derby against K.C. lefty Bruce Chen. Donaldson crushed a leadoff homer to center in the seventh, then got Chen again with another straightaway blast that went farther.

Both homers were estimated at more than 400 feet, and it gave Donaldson 25 for the year, which surpassed his season total for 2013. He admitted doing that meant something special personally, and he added what the A's did on this night at the plate could impact the offense as a whole.

"I think it's big," Donaldson said. "You're still trying to get the feel of the lineup because there has been, obviously, some change. Getting used to being in a certain spot definitely helps. But I believe we have a good lineup and we're going to have success."

Lester is 3-0 for the A's, 13-7 overall. He wound up pitching six innings, allowing six hits with two walks and nine strikeouts.

--An MRI taken Tuesday revealed that A's shortstop Jed Lowrie has a hairline fracture in his right index finger, a development that won't stop Lowrie from playing but could impede him.

The pain in Lowrie's finger hasn't improved since he took a ground ball off his finger Aug. 4 against Tampa.

"Does it mean anything as far as being able to play with it?" said Melvin. "Maybe a day off a little more frequently, but he's able to play with it, and nothing would suggest unless he gets hit again that it would worsen."

(c)2014 Contra Costa Times (Walnut Creek, Calif.)

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