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MLB: Slumping A’s ‘still grinding,’ take on Royals

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After a loss that will keep a manager up most of the night, the Oakland Athletics will try to make amends Wednesday night in the second game of a three-game series against the Royals in Kansas City.

The A’s (77-67) gave up a six-run lead heading into the bottom of the third inning Tuesday, eventually losing to the Royals 10-7 for their third straight defeat and their seventh loss in the past 10 games.

On Wednesday, the A’s will send left-hander Sean Manaea (9-9, 3.79 ERA) to the mound to face lefty Mike Minor (8-12, 5.05).

“We’re still grinding,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “Every day we talk. We know where we’re at. We’ve had some tough games along the way in the last couple of weeks. It looked like we were on our way out of it, and we’ve gotten bit a couple of times recently.”

The A’s scored two runs in the first inning, three in the second and one in the third before the Royals (66-78) mounted an attack with three runs in the third and one run in the fourth. After the A’s took a 7-4 lead in the fifth, the Royals scored four times in the sixth to take the lead for good.

Three runs in the inning came on a Salvador Perez home run.

“You have the (reigning American League) Player of the Week on deck,” Melvin said of the decision to pitch to Perez with Andrew Benintendi waiting. “(Yusmeiro Petit) didn’t make the pitch he wanted to make.”

It was the second time in 12 games the A’s have blown a six-run lead and lost, and Melvin will look to Manaea to right the ship.

Manaea had lost three straight decisions before his most recent start, Thursday against the Chicago White Sox. He shut down the AL Central leaders — allowing one run on five hits in seven innings, with nine strikeouts — in Oakland’s 3-1 win.

“I was able to establish my fastball and throw it with conviction,” Manaea said after that start. “I feel like I really simplified things. I was able to be aggressive with all my pitches. Whether it gets hit or not is not up to me.”

The former Royals’ farmhand is 1-0 with a 1.46 ERA against the team that took him in the first round of the 2013 draft.

Minor is the outlier among Royals starters. All four of the Royals’ first-round picks in the 2018 draft are with the major-league club, including Tuesday’s starter, Jackson Kowar.

Minor has not pitched more than seven innings in a start this year, but he consistently goes into the middle innings. He’s pitched at least five innings in 25 of 28 starts this season.

Royals manager Mike Matheny said he hopes Minor can go deep into the game because he had to get eight innings from his bullpen on Tuesday’s victory.

“To soak up that many innings when your starter only gives you one, it’s exceptional,” Matheny said after the game. “For the bullpen to hold it down after allowing six runs before you can blink an eye, it was really a special night for our pen.”

Minor is 3-5 with a 5.36 ERA in 11 appearances (eight starts) lifetime against the A’s.

–Field Level Media

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