KANSAS CITY -- The Royals carried a woeful 6-18 record at home into their game Sunday against the struggling Oakland Athletics, but Royals fans were able to witness the kind of timely hitting and solid pitching they had longed to see at Kauffman Stadium this season.
Before the game, Eric Hosmer had cautioned fans not to worry. All the Royals had to do was get a couple of players hot, Hosmer said.
“Our best baseball is yet to come, and we’ll have a good chance to get this thing rolling,” he said. “Someone is due to get hot.”
The “someone” happened to be Eric Hosmer.
His solo homer in the bottom of the second inning was all the runs right-hander Vincent Mazzaro and three Royals relievers needed to pin a 2-0 loss on the A’s.
Hosmer’s homer was a laser shot to deep center, and it was one of his two hits on the day. His first was all the runs Mazzaro (2-0), a spot starter whom the Royals recalled May 25 from Triple-A Omaha, would need.
“Vinnie threw the ball extremely well, and he never gave in,” manager Ned Yost said. “I thought he looked great, and he did a nice job today keeping his name in the hat.”
But in the top of the first, Yost had to wonder if the spot start would be the last start for Mazzaro.
He loaded the bases with two outs. Facing Brandon Inge, who already had a pair of grand slams this season, Mazzaro appeared to be in deep trouble. He wiggled out of this mess, striking out Inge and stranding three base runners.
From there, Mazzaro was flawless; he held the A’s, a team he pitched for in 2009 and 2010, scoreless on four hits over the six innings he worked.
The Royals didn’t just rely on Mazzaro’s arm and Hosmer’s big bat, however, in beating Oakland. They got some nice glove work along the way, picked up an insurance run in the fifth and saw three relievers produce shutout work down the stretch.
With A’s runners on second and third in the top of the fifth, Josh Reddick lofted a foul fly to left field.
“When Reddick hit the ball, I thought it was going to be in the stands,” Yost said. “Alex Gordon didn’t give up on the play.”
Gordon raced toward the stands and made the catch. Adam Rosales, who was on third, then tried to test Gordon’s arm. Rosales lost.
Gordon’s throw easily retired Rosales at the plate to preserve Mazzaro’s 1-0 lead.
In the bottom half of the fifth, the lead grew.
Jarrard Dyson opened the inning with a single off A’s starter Tommy Milone (6-5), whose performance was a match for Mazzaro’s. Dyson then stole second. He scored on Johnny Giavotella’s RBI single to center.
Two relievers turned over that 2-0 lead to closer Jonathan Broxton, who finished the shutout and picked up a save with a scoreless ninth.