Because of tonight’s late finish, many of you won’t get my game story in your morning paper, so here’s a version of it below …
By Joe Stiglich
The A’s and Kansas City Royals managed to squeeze in seven innings between rain showers Tuesday.
Oakland’s hitters? They might as well have stayed warm and dry in the clubhouse during a 3-0 loss that was called with two outs in the top of the eighth.
The A’s managed just one hit, giving them a total of eight hits and one run through the first 16 2/3 innings of this three-game series.
Royals left-hander Danny Duffy, who was 4-8 with a 5.64 ERA as a rookie last season, struck out eight over six innings. The only hit he allowed came on Cliff Pennington’s third-inning double to the right-center gap, though he issued four walks.
Duffy — a native of Lompoc, in Santa Barbara County – had a big following on hand. And surely he was able to hear their cheers from the mound. The paid attendance was announced at 10,670, but it appeared that no more than about 2,000 showed up to a game that was delayed 43 minutes at the start. Every wisecrack echoed throughout the Oakland Coliseum, combining with the weather for a dreary atmosphere that seemed to suck the A’s right in. But A’s manager Bob Melvin wasn’t using that as an excuse.
“We’ve played before small crowds before, we’ve played in inclimate weather,” he said. “That doesn’t affect it.”
They didn’t advance anyone past second base, and the base runners they did muster didn’t fare well.
Collin Cowgill was doubled off first in the second inning when Royals center fielder Lorenzo Cain made a running catch on the warning track to rob Daric Barton. Cowgill had rounded second base at the time Cain caught the ball and couldn’t make it back in time.
After Pennington doubled with one out in the third, Duffy promptly picked him off.
A’s right-hander Graham Godfrey fared well in his first start of the season, going six innings and allowing two runs on six hits with one walk and one strikeout.
The Royals scored the only runs they needed in the fourth. With runners on the corners, Mike Moustakas drove a ball to center. Yoenis Cespedes tracked the ball down but couldn’t make the running over-the-shoulder catch, with the ball bouncing off his glove and then his body. Billy Butler scored, and Jeff Francoeur would come home on Humberto Quintero’s sacrifice fly for a 2-0 lead. Jerry Blevins relieved Godfrey in the top of the seventh and allowed Mitch Maier’s homer to right on his second pitch for a 3-0 Royals advantage.
–A’s reliever Joey Devine will miss the entire season after undergoing his second reconstructive elbow surgery Tuesday, performed by Dr. James Andrews in Pensacola, Fla.
It’s a devastating blow for the right-hander, who had the same procedure in April 2009 and missed two full seasons while recovering. He made 26 appearances for the A’s last season and was viewed as a potential closer candidate entering this season.
“The frustration level and sadness he’s going through right now … to have to go back and do that again, I really feel bad for him,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said.
Devine, 28, appeared in just three spring training games, as his elbow began giving him trouble early in camp. He visited Andrews – who performed his 2009 surgery – on Monday. Devine’s ulnar collateral ligament had re-torn and needed to be replaced – the process known as “Tommy John” surgery. Andrews also repaired the ulnar nerve and cleaned out Devine’s flexor tendon.
Recovery from Tommy John surgery typically takes 12-18 months. Requiring the surgery twice is rare, although A’s head trainer Nick Paparesta points out that Los Angeles Angels closer Jason Isringhausen has come back from three Tommy John procedures.
“Obviously (having it twice) within a three-year period, it’s a little unusual,” Paparesta said.
Kansas City Royals closer Joakim Soria underwent his second Tommy John procedure April 3, but Royals head trainer Nick Kenney estimated that fewer than 20 major league pitchers have had the surgery multiple times.
“The thing that’s going to come out eventually is how long these (surgeries) last,” Kenney said. “We don’t know that yet. The reason that’s going to start coming up is you have younger kids who are 15, 16 years old having this procedure.”
–The A’s avoided their first home rainout since May 5, 1998. With Josh Reddick getting the night off, Cowgill drew the start in right field and Cespedes batted third. Anthony Recker also made his first start, spelling Kurt Suzuki behind the plate.
–A’s lefty Brett Anderson, almost nine months removed from his Tommy John surgery, continues to recover well. He threw 45 pitches Tuesday, his first time throwing all of his pitches – fastball, curve, slider and change-up — at full distance.
“Feeling good is the No. 1 factor,” Anderson said. “But I’m at a point now where my stuff is getting better and my competitive side is coming out. I’d rather focus on that than how my arm’s feeling.”
Anderson will fly to Phoenix on Wednesday to continue rehabbing in warmer weather. If all goes well, he will begin throwing live batting practice and possibly simulated games “in a week or two,” he said.
–Cespedes, who defected from Cuba last summer, declined comment on Ozzie Guillen’s recent inflammatory comments, in which Guillen voiced support for Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. Former A’s pitcher Ariel Prieto – another Cuban defector now acting as Cespedes’ interpreter – also politely declined to discuss the topic.