KANSAS CITY -- When you’re dealing with significant pitching issues, there are still ways to win ballgames.
One way is to start hitting and not look back. The A’s did that on Wednesday, using a relentless offense to turn back the pesky Royals, 12-10, and bolster their hopes for a frantic finish that could enable them to bid for a fourth consecutive postseason berth. Oakland tallied a season-high 18 hits and scored multiple runs in four different innings. That was in stark contrast to the previous night, when the A’s were limited to one run over the final six innings in a 10-7 loss.
By holding on, Oakland kept pace with its rivals in the AL Wild Card standings, ending the night 3 1/2 games back of the second spot.
For the second consecutive game, the A’s built a healthy lead early, only to see the Royals roar back. A 5-1 cushion behind Sean Manaea melted like warm butter in the fourth as Kansas City drew within 5-4 and threatened to pull ahead.
But Josh Harrison, starting just his fourth game for Oakland at third base while Matt Chapman recovers from a foot injury, turned the momentum back to the A’s when he used his quick hands to field Edward Olivares’ smash and start an inning-ending double play that stopped the bleeding.
Second baseman Tony Kemp had to dig out a low throw before making the relay to first.
“I wouldn’t say it was routine,” Harrison said of the play. “[Olivares] hit the ball to my right. It was hit fairly well, so I knew I had the opportunity to turn the double play and Tony picked me up.”
The Oakland offense took it from there with a three-run rally in the fifth. The offensive highlights included a two-run homer by Matt Olson, sending him past the 100 RBI mark for the first time in his career.
With 17 games remaining, Olson has 35 homers, one shy of his career high of 36 in 2019.
“I think he’s possibly the best first baseman in the league,” Harrison said of Olson. “Top three easily. There’s not anything he struggles with.”
Harrison added a clutch two-run single in the fifth and the A’s went for four in the seventh to give a shaky bullpen ample breathing room -- which it needed, as Kansas City made things interesting with four runs against Lou Trivino and Jake Diekman before Andrew Chafin got into and out of trouble to lock down the much needed victory, escaping a bases-loaded situation in a high-stress bottom of the ninth inning.
Manaea labored through five innings, being tagged for five earned runs on nine hits and throwing 101 pitches. The lefty kept the ball mostly on the ground, but the Royals were finding holes. Still, Manaea got the win because of the excellent offensive support on a night when Oakland’s hitters didn’t let up.
“It was OK,” Manaea said of his outing. “I thought I made some good pitches. It wasn’t as though I was getting hit around really hard.”
Manager Bob Melvin had to sweat it out late as the Royals made a bid to overcome a seven-run deficit and send the A's to another crushing late-inning defeat, something the club has experienced a bit lately.
“You don’t feel like you can stop [scoring runs],” Melvin said. “You have to continue to add on. Our offense right now is probably as good as it has been all year. We’re scoring a lot of runs, but having trouble holding the other team down. We just need to enjoy a win and not turn it into a defeat because it got dicey at the end.”