OAKLAND -- Rookie catcher Cam Gallagher launched a grand slam for his first career home run, helping the Royals secure a 6-2 series-opening victory over the A's at the Coliseum on Monday evening.
"I was just hoping for one run," Royals manager Ned Yost said of Gallagher's at-bat with the bases loaded in the sixth inning. "But when he hit the ball, I was hoping it'd stay fair. It didn't hook much, it stayed pretty straight right down the line. Getting a five-run lead right there was pretty big."
Grand slams mean 40% off pizza
Fellow Royals rookie Jake Junis did his part with six innings of two-run ball, as the Royals moved within a half-game of the second American League Wild Card spot with their third straight win, tying them with the Twins at five games behind the Indians in the AL Central.
Junis yielded just four hits, striking out two and hitting just as many batters -- which led to an A's run in the sixth when Khris Davis was plunked with the bases loaded, but Oakland couldn't advance the rally further.
"We just had a rough game all the way around," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "When we had opportunities, we didn't come through. And when we had a chance to get out of innings, we didn't get out of them."
The sixth inning was key for Janis, who stranded three runners by getting Matt Olson on a popout and Chad Pinder on a strikeout.
"He did a great job of limiting the damage there in the sixth inning to one run," Royals manager Ned Yost said of Janis. "It could've been a lot worse. I was impressed with his ability to reel it back in there and make the pitches he needed to to get out of that jam."
Eric Hosmer chipped in with an RBI single, driving in Kansas City's first run against right-hander Jharel Cotton, who allowed six runs on eight hits across six innings.
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A grand time: The sixth began ominously for Cotton, who walked his first batter, Melky Cabrera, in an inning that fell the Royals' way. Mike Moustakas singled and, one out later, Escobar sent a tapper up the middle that resulted in an infield single to load the bases. Cotton managed to induce a shallow popup from Gordon, before Gallagher connected on a 3-2 fastball for a game-changing grand slam.
"[With the count] 3-2, I wasn't trying to be too fine," Cotton said. "I was trying to give him my best pitch, and it just wasn't there. It leaked over enough to the inside of the plate, and that's his hot zone. It's frustrating, because I couldn't finish the inning. I wanted to get that guy out, give my team a chance, and I just didn't do that."
Gallagher later doubled in the ninth, reaching base three times on the night, but it was the grand slam that he'll remember for years to come.
"When I got to two strikes, I kind of just shortened up, got my foot down and tried to put the barrel on the ball," Gallagher said. "And luckily it got the barrel and went over the fence."
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Applying pressure: After the A's tied the game, 1-1, in the first inning, buoyed by a Marcus Semien triple, the Royals utilized their speed with two outs in the second to regain a lead they would never surrender. Alcides Escobar got things going with a base hit and raced to third on Alex Gordon's single, putting runners at the corners for Gallagher. Gordon stole second base, and Cotton proceeded to walk Gallagher on six pitches, the last getting away for a wild pitch that plated Escobar for the go-ahead run.
A's: The A's will send right-hander Chris Smith to the mound for the middle matchup of this three-game series Tuesday, with first pitch at the Coliseum scheduled for 7:05 p.m. PT. Smith has a 4.80 ERA in five games as a starter since his July 8 promotion.
Royals: Right-hander Jason Hammel (5-9, 4.68 ERA) will start for Kansas City. Hammel has allowed three runs or fewer in each of his last seven starts. First pitch is set for 9:05 p.m. CT.
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