Stymied again by right-hander Frankie Montas — the same Oakland starting pitcher who a week ago was the beneficiary of a 16-run outpouring at Kauffman Stadium — the Royals lost to the A’s 7-2 at Oakland Coliseum on Friday.
Mike Moustakas in the eighth inning shattered Montas' illusions of throwing a second-straight scoreless outing. Served a 94 mph fastball belt-high, Moustakas stroked the seventh pitch of his eighth at-bat against Montas — Moustakas went 0 for 4 against the 25-year-old last week — just over the right-field wall for a two-run homer.
Montas, who allowed six hits in 7 2/3 innings, immediately departed the game.
A’s reliever Emilio Pagan allowed two more Royals to reach base — but they were left stranded.
During this six-game skid, the Royals have languished at the plate: Three times they’ve been limited to one or fewer runs; and they’ve batted just .181 (35 for 193) as a group.
"Very seldom am I frustrated with the at-bat. I think our at-bats are OK," Royals manager Ned Yost said before the game. "We just can’t get any elevation on the balls. We can’t get balls in the air, we keep balls on the ground."
The theme came up again after the Royals, who were unable to string together more than two hits at a time on Friday night, left seven runners on base.
"We’re not getting up there and for the most part swinging at pitches outside the zone," Yost said. "We’re hitting the ball on the ground a lot. It’s hard to sneak the ball through the infield."
The A's didn't have that problem against Royals starting pitcher Jakob Junis, who pitched 5 1/3 innings and allowed six runs for the second time this season. Khris Davis, who entered the game ranked ninth in the American League with 15 home runs, hit solo homers in consecutive at-bats against Junis. Dustin Fowler clubbed his own one-run shot.
The A’s then padded their lead on Marcus Semien’s RBI single in the fourth and Jonathan Lucroy's two-run double in the sixth.
"I just couldn’t put guys away tonight," Junis said. "My slider wasn’t sharp. The one to Fowler was a heater that was supposed to be up and in. Just left it over the plate a little too much, and he took advantage of it."
A foul ball: Royals outfielder Jorge Soler is day to day with a bruise on his left big toe. He was removed from Friday's game in the second inning.
In the middle of his first at-bat, Soler fouled a ball off his front foot and dropped to the dirt, grimacing as he stretched out on his belly. Soler eventually completed his at-bat and didn’t appear to struggle as he returned to the bench.
But when the Royals went into the field, Soler retreated into the dugout and left the game with trainer Nick Kenney.
In the minor leagues: Seuly Matias, ranked the third best prospect in the Royals’ organization by Baseball America, clubbed a home run for the 19th time this season. In his last 10 games, Matias has collected six home runs and eight RBIs for the low-Class A Lexington Legends. He’s still struggling to tamp down his eagerness at the plate — he’s struck out 71 times in 46 games — but he leads all of minor league baseball with 19 homers.
Matias and teammates Nick Pratto, MJ Melendez and Sebastian Rivero were all selected to the South Atlantic Division all-star team this week.
Up next: The Royals, who dropped to 21-43, send Danny Duffy to start Saturday’s 3 p.m. game against the A's.