Athletics beat Royals behind Gonzalez
July 17, 2010
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – With the help one of the wackiest evenings in Coco Crisp’s career, the Oakland Athletics won at night, something they rarely do, and beat Zack Greinke – something they’d never done.
By the time the A’s put away a 5-1 victory over Greinke and the Kansas City Royals on Friday night, Crisp was wondering if he had made baseball history.
He probably hadn’t. But it was a zany 1 for 5 for the seven-year veteran.
“I could have took the 1 for 5,” he said. “But I was actually like 1 for 7.”
In Oakland’s three-run third inning, Crisp hit a comebacker to Greinke that could have been a double play. But shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt dropped Greinke’s throw to second, and everybody was safe. Then in the ninth, Crisp grounded to second baseman Mike Aviles, who made the toss to second to start what might have been another double play.
But umpires called a balk on Joakim Soria, making the runner safe at second and sending Crisp back to the plate, where he grounded out.
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By far the strangest play, however, came in the first inning when Crisp lashed a liner down the right-field line that first base umpire Larry Vanover ruled foul.
Manager Bob Geren came out to argue, the umpires huddled, and the call was reversed.
Crisp first went to first base and stood there, then hustled to second when he realized he’d been credited with a double.
“He looked like a Nintendo player when he hit the bag and then broke left,” winning pitcher Gio Gonzalez said with a laugh. “That’s something you see in a Nintendo game.”
Said Crisp, “First time it ever happened to me, so I don’t know exactly what is supposed to happen. I don’t think anybody did.”
Was it the first time he’d been awarded a double on an umpire’s reversed call?
“For me? Probably,” he said. “I’m not sure if that has happened in baseball. I actually got put out like six times today.”
Crisp later scored on Jack Cust’s sacrifice fly, giving the A’s the early lead in what turned out to be their 11th win in 31 night games.
Royals manager Ned Yost admitted he thought Crisp’s ball was fair. But he’s not sure umpires should gather to discuss every disputed call.
“We can’t be starting that. It’s kind of a Catch-22,” he said. “I’m not sure you can do that in situations outside of a home run call. I had a pretty good idea the ball was fair … but still I don’t think we can start doing that every day.”
Kevin Kouzmanoff had a two-run single for the Athletics. Gonzalez (8-6) gave up an RBI single to Jason Kendall in the first inning but then threw six shutout frames. Relievers Craig Breslow and Michael Wuertz each pitched a scoreless inning.
Greinke (5-9), who missed his previous start with stiffness in his right shoulder, was charged with five runs – two earned – four hits and four walks in six innings. He lost to the A’s for the first time in five career decisions.
Greinke also thought Crisp’s ball was fair.
“I think they got the call right and that’s really the whole thing,” he said. “I never saw a good replay, but everyone said it barely hit the line. I didn’t know they could change it.”
With the help of Betancourt’s fielding error, the A’s scored three unearned runs in the third to take a 5-1 lead.
After Cliff Pennington walked and was safe when Betancourt dropped Greinke’s throw to second on Crisp’s grounder, Greinke loaded the bases when he bounced a pitch in the dirt for ball four to Kurt Suzuki. With two outs, Kouzmanoff rifled a two-run single up the middle and Mark Ellis followed with an RBI single. Kouzmanoff was cut down at third, ending the inning.
The Royals loaded the bases with no outs in the fourth with two singles and a walk. But Gonzalez got Mike Aviles to fly out to shallow center, fanned Willie Bloomquist and coaxed a grounder to third from Betancourt.
The attendance was 37,312, the Royals’ fifth sellout this year.
NOTES: The Royals will play 42 of 74 games at home in the second half of the season. … The A’s have already finished their season series with Baltimore and Detroit but this was the start of their nine games with KC. … Bloomquist made a standout catch in center field of Gabe Gross’ sinking liner to end the sixth. … Oakland 2B Ellis bobbled Alberto Callaspo’s routine grounder in the sixth, his first error in 52 games. He had not committed an error since Sept. 27, 2009, at the Angels.