Freddy Fermin slugs two homers, Bobby Witt Jr. bashes game-winner as Royals clip A's, 3-2

Jaylon Thompson, The Kansas City Star on

Published in Baseball

OAKLAND, Calif. — The Kansas City Royals avoided their first sweep of the season against the Oakland Athletics on Thursday afternoon.

But the Athletics didn’t make it easy.

The Royals overcame the persistent Athletics in a 3-2 victory at the Oakland Coliseum. KC relied on three home runs and a few important defensive plays to pick up a critical road win.

Royals designated hitter Freddy Fermin hit two early home runs. It was his first multi-homer game of the season. He took Athletics starter Mitch Spence deep twice as the Royals held a 2-0 lead.

“We created a plan before the game,” Fermin said. “We saw the strike zone and we picked the middle of the zone. So, he threw me the cutter right in the middle and that was what I was looking for. I made a good swing two times and I executed.”

Spence earned a no decision. He allowed two runs and registered six strikeouts in six innings of work.

Later, Royals star Bobby Witt Jr. provided the go-ahead run. In the eighth inning, he hit his 12th home run of the season off Athletics reliever Vinny Nittoli.

“I wasn’t frustrated going into the at-bat,” Witt said. “More so, just trying to make something happen. It’s frustrating losing, so I knew we needed to do something to get a win.”

The runs helped the Royals fight off a late Athletics comeback. Oakland scored two runs against Royals starter Seth Lugo in the seventh inning.

And the Athletics were set up for even more. However, a pair of baserunning blunders cost them a chance at victory.

Athletics catcher Kyle McCann was thrown out at home plate. In the next inning, shortstop Max Schuemann was picked off at first base.

“That’s a tough right-field corner because it goes over the mound and the bullpen is right there,” Royals manager Matt Quatraro said. “(Royals outfielder Dairon Blanco) got it quickly and made a really accurate throw, which is the key to any double cut. (Adam) Frazier was ready to go and Salvy (Salvador Perez) put a good tag on it.”

Quatraro added that the pickoff was enormous. He called the play a turning point in the game.

“They are going to be running there and (Athletics outfielder JJ) Bleday is likely to put the ball in play,” Quatraro said. “It’s going to end up being a guy on second possibly or third.”

The Royals took advantage of the mistakes. KC turned to relievers James McArthur, Angel Zerpa and Chris Stratton to nail down the club’s 42nd victory of the season.

As for the sweeps, the Royals were swept in their first series of last season, March 30-April 2 against the Twins. They had been swept in eight series by June 20, 2023.

Here are more notables from Thursday’s game:

Lugo turns in quality start


Lugo limited the Athletics for much of the game. He cruised through six innings, striking out eight batters in the span.

Additionally, Lugo evaded early trouble thanks to three key double plays. The defensive help allowed him to work around baserunners in the first, third and fourth innings.

“I had a pretty good idea of where I could get a grounder,” Lugo said. “And I got those grounders, so it kept the pitch count down. It allowed me to get into the seventh.”

However, the Athletics finally broke through in that seventh frame.

Lugo allowed a two-out double to Athletics outfielder Lawrence Butler. Later, second baseman Zack Gelof hit a two-run homer over the center-field wall.

“You know, giving up the two-run homer for them to tie it, that hurt,” Lugo said. “But I’m glad we got the win. We needed a win.”

Gelof drilled a 86.5-mph slider 422 feet. The home run cost Lugo a chance for his 11th victory of the season.

Instead, Lugo settled for a no decision. He registered 45 swings and 12 whiffs in the start, per Baseball Savant.

Royals place reliever Dan Altavilla on injured list

The Royals will be without reliever Dan Altavilla for a while. The veteran pitcher sustained a right oblique strain on Wednesday night.

Altavilla exited with the Royals training staff in the game. He finished 2/3 of an inning before leaving in the eighth frame.

The Royals recalled reliever Steven Cruz on Thursday afternoon. He registered a 4.33 ERA in 24 appearances for Triple-A Omaha.

Meanwhile, Altavilla was placed on the 15-day injured list. He has allowed six earned runs in 3 2/3 innings this season.

What’s next on the Royals’ schedule?

The Royals begin a three-game weekend series against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas.

KC right-hander Brady Singer is slated to start on Friday night. Singer allowed three earned runs in his last start. He owns a 6.05 ERA in four career starts against Texas.

The Rangers will start right-hander Nathan Eovaldi. He is 3-3 with a 3.15 ERA this season.

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