Before the start of the Royals’ 11-7 loss to the Oakland A’s Friday night in a spring-training game, manager Ned Yost was asked about the bullpen.
Yost ticked off a list of 10 names of pitchers he said had looked good this spring and were still in the mix to see time in the bullpen this season.
“We’ve got a lot of guys who are throwing the ball really well,” Yost said.
Two pitchers expected to be key contributors looked sharp Friday night. Closer Kelvin Herrera struck out three and allowed just a single in the fourth inning as his off-speed pitches kept the A’s batters off-balance.
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Left-hander Matt Strahm followed and struck out the side. Lefty Scott Alexander, who is not a lock for a bullpen spot, also tossed a scoreless inning and struck out a batter.
Royals starter Jason Hammel, however, had an uneven outing.
Oakland first baseman Matt Olson opened the second inning by hitting a home run that made fans scurry on the sidewalk where it landed. That was behind the grass berm beyond the A’s bullpen in right field. After an out, catcher Josh Phegley lined a double to left, and with two outs, right fielder Jaff Decker hit a laser to center for another double and Oakland led 2-0.
Hammel sandwiched a pair of outs around a walk in the third and was lifted after throwing 48 pitches, including 29 for strikes. It was the second spring start for Hammel, who struck out three, walked two and yielded the two runs on three hits.
“I was not overly pleased, but I’m also not overly disappointed with the outing,” said Hammel, who added he was working on his slider. “Obviously, the fastball was much better the first time (out) and the breaking stuff wasn’t there. So now today, it was kind of flip-flopped.
“But overall, I felt great throwing 50 pitches and add in the warmup, it was quite a workload for second time out.”
Oakland starter Jharel Cotton retired the first nine Royals before issuing a walk to left fielder Alex Gordon. Cotton departed after striking out Mike Moustakas for the second time, and the Royals got on the board when Lorenzo Cain greeted A’s reliever Simon Castro with a triple down the right-field line.
It was still 2-1 when Jake Junis, a starter who is likely to open the season at Class AAA Omaha, gave up four runs in the seventh inning — including a three-run homer by second baseman Chad Pinder — as Oakland broke the game open.
Miguel Almonte, also a starter in the minors, allowed five runs in the eight inning.
Gordon walked twice and was 0 for 1.
Brandon Moss had a single and struck out twice.
Outfielder Paulo Orlando had an RBI single in the seventh inning.
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Second baseman Raul Mondesi came on as a defensive replacement in the sixth inning and was involved in a scary play. Decker bunted up the first-base line and ran into Mondesi who tried to cover the bag. Mondesi was down on the ground for a few minutes, but he walked off the field. Whit Merrifield took over at second. The Royals said he was taken out of the game because of a possible concussion.
Peter O’Brien and Ramon Torres hit consecutive home runs in the eighth inning.