Luke Hochevar had another rugged outing at the Coliseum. His outing ended in the sixth with the score 5-5, two runners on and one out. John Bale relieved him and walked the bases full.
Oh well, that at least set up a possible home-to-first double play. The A's Adam Kennedy obliged with a one-hopper back to Bale. However, Bale turned toward second to try for two outs that way. Except he lost his grip and spiked the ball into the dirt about 20 feet to the right side of second base.
The sparse crowd, announced generously at 10,376, was delighted by the gaffe.
"If I go home, it's an easy double play, and I just screwed it up," Bale said.
Both the crowd and the Royals were surprised to see Bale turn toward second base.
"I turned and I think even the middle infielders were looking at me like, 'What are you doing?'" Bale said.
At that point, Bale wondered himself, hesitated, held onto the ball too long and threw it into no-man's land.
"It was a dumb mistake," he said.
Two runs scored on that error and Bale was relieved by Robinson Tejeda. Then the Royals caught Kennedy between first and second. Cliff Pennington broke off third and was tagged out in a rundown that lasted so long that Kennedy wound up at third. That hurt, because Rajai Davis blooped a single to right to give the A's an 8-5 lead.
"Ideally, one or two throws and you're out of it," Gibbons said of the rundown. "It doesn't always work that way. But that's the ideal."
For a while, Hochevar's Oakland fortunes seemed to have reversed. When he was called up to pitch in Oakland on May 12 after a successful engagement at Triple-A Omaha, the curtain came down after just two innings with the A's up, 8-0.
Ah, but this time the Royals jumped ahead against left-hander Gio Gonzalez, 4-0, in the first two innings. David DeJesus began the game with a sharp single, Billy Butler walked, Mark Teahen lofted an RBI double to deep right-center and Alberto Callaspo's single to left scored two more.
In the second, DeJesus crashed a full-count pitch into the right-field seats, a solo shot that was his 12th homer, matching his career high, which he set last season. So things were happily different for Hochevar so far.
But, oh my. The third inning was a horror show for him. The A's charged to five runs to take the lead. Hochevar gave up two walks and four hits, including Ryan Sweeney's two-run triple that skipped down the right-field line.
"I've got to do a better job of recognizing and having a meeting with myself on the mound and getting things back together and getting the ball back down in the zone," Hochevar said. "That's on me to find a way to get out of that with as little damage as possible."
In the midst of it all, after a throw from right field skipped through catcher Miguel Olivo, Hochevar recovered the ball behind home plate and then dozed. As he walked back toward the mound, Davis raced from second to third unchallenged.
"I thought time was out," Hochevar said. "But I mean, that's just a bonehead play right there."
From there, Davis scored on a groundout with Callaspo making a superb stop at second. The inning kept rolling from that point.
"You look at Hoch throughout the year and there's one inning that bites him," Gibbons said. "I've seen a lot of good ones that learn to limit the damage and get over the hump. Because, other than that, he pitched pretty good."
The Royals came back for a 5-5 tie in the fifth on Butler's walk and Callaspo's triple to right-center. That was the Royals' league-leading 42nd triple this season.
But that didn't hold and Hochevar still hasn't won since July 25. He's 0-5 with a 7.30 ERA in his past seven starts.
There was certainly no Zack Greinke-like one-hitter in the works on this cool night at Oakland. Not even close.