On Saturday, the 5th inning was the Royals’ worst nightmare. On Sunday, it was nearly a dream come true.
James Shields retired the first fifteen batters that he faced before giving up a solo home run to Josh Reddick, and the Royals sent eight batters to the plate in the top of the fifth, scoring four of them, and then coasted to a 4-2 win at O.o Coliseum in Oakland. Kansas City pounded out 14 hits in sending the A’s to their first series defeat since May.
Something about that fifth inning; a Raul Ibanez homer on Friday was the only run in a 1-0 Royals win.
Both Shields (10-6) and Oakland starter Scott Kazmir (12-4) got off to good starts. Kazmir was helped by back-to-back, inning-ending double plays in the first and second. The Royals had a runner on in each of the first four frames, but couldn’t bring any of them around. But then that magical fifth. Christian Colon led off with a double. After Alcides Escobar walked, Nori Aoki singled to left to break the scoreless tie. Omar Infante followed with a double and the 3-0 lead, and Salvador Perez capped the inning with a single to left, scoring Infante.
Meanwhile, Shields was on cruise control…until Reddick sent one of his offerings over the wall in right center. With one swing of the bat, the perfect game, the no-hitter, and the shutout all vanished. Reddick would also homer in the 8th, but Greg Holland shut the door in the ninth for his 31st save on the season.
“I was just trying to get on base…I was able to get a good pitch”, said Colon after the game. “Shields went out there and battled for us”. He called his pitcher’s performance an “amazing job”.
Kansas City improves to 57-53, while Oakland falls to 67-43…still the best record in Major League Baseball. The Royals continue to trail the Detroit Tigers by five games in the division, but thanks to Toronto’s loss to Houston, they’re now just a game and a half out of the second Wild Card spot.
The Royals are off Monday, and will begin a three-game set with the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday night. Our coverage will begin at 8:00pm (cst).