OAKLAND — Bob Melvin said on Tuesday night that — even if the Oakland Athletics aren’t going to win a lot of games in the immediate term — he was looking to instill a never-say-die culture for his young roster.
No more than 18 hours later, Melvin’s lineup responded with another late-inning rally against the Kansas City Royals — the only team in baseball with a higher staff ERA in August than the A’s. But it was the bullpen that couldn’t seal the deal and the visitors won, 7-6.
“It is a results-based industry and you want to win. But the fact that you keep battling in what was early on not a really good game for us does have a little value,” Melvin explained after the game.
The A’s are 53-68 and have owned last place of the division since May 30, so it’s hard to blame the skipper for appreciating some moral victories.
The biggest of the night came shortly after Ryon Healy led off the eighth inning with a line-drive single. Matt Chapman hit 418-foot rocket to center field to tie the game, 6-6.
Chapman has been red-hot in the second half. The third baseman leads American League rookies in several offensive categories — including home runs (9), doubles (11) and extra-base hits (21).
The blast took Paul Blackburn off the hook for a loss. He lasted just four innings while allowing four runs on eight hits. It was Blackburn’s shortest outing in nine career major-league starts.
The Oakland advantage didn’t last long.
Blake Treinen entered in the top of the ninth with hopes of ensuring extra innings. Instead, Alcides Escobar hit a leadoff double and was plated a batter later on an Alex Gordon single.
Escobar finished the game 3-for-4 with a walk and two runs scored. He entered the contest hitting .232/.255/.316. His on-base percentage ranks worst among big-league shortstops.
Acquired on July 16 in a trade that cost the A’s two of their most reliable bullpen arms, Treinen has thrown in 16 of the 29 games he’s been on the team.
“I really didn’t want to have to use him unless it was that situation,” Melvin admitted. “… But he said he was good for one inning and once we got to a tie game, that’s our closer at this point.”
Kelvin Herrera entered to protect the one-run lead in the bottom of the ninth. The righty put down the heart of the Athletics’ order to complete the save.
“There’s a lot of losses we’ve had where we did some good things,” said Marcus Semien, who hit a two-run homer in the third. “But … you want to win the game.”