OAKLAND — Jorge López has made 16 starts in 37 appearances this season. He’s apparently earning more consideration for a steadier role with the Royals.
The right-hander, who’s in his first full Major League season, blanked the formidable A’s for six innings Tuesday night at the Coliseum before fading late as Kansas City dropped a 2-1 decision. While the A’s strengthened their grip on the first American League Wild Card spot, the Royals had to content themselves with hopes that López soon will gain the knack of repeating such efforts more consistently, thus cementing himself in the starting rotation.
López has a 3.27 ERA in his last four starts, compared to 7.07 in his first 10. He took a two-hit shutout and a 1-0 lead into the seventh inning, which was when Oakland edged ahead.
Matt Olson led off with a titanic home run, a drive that traveled a projected 450 feet into the second deck of the center field seats, according to Statcast. Oakland’s mini-surge continued as López hit Mark Canha with a pitch before yielding Seth Brown’s go-ahead RBI double. That ended López’s star-crossed evening.
Royals manager Ned Yost was duly impressed with López.
“He had everything going,” Yost said of López. “He had a good curveball, he spotted his fastball well, mixed in some good changeups. His last four or five starts have been really, really impressive.”
In his ninth professional season, López is still striving to gain the savvy required to make a Major League starting rotation — and stay in it.
Asked if this was a particularly strong performance for López, especially against an intimidating A’s club, Yost took issue with the word “particularly.”
“Not more ‘particularly,’” Yost said. “They’re all impressive right now, from where he’s come, in my estimation, to where he’s at now. He’s pitching with so much more conviction, so much more command.”
López has reached the point where he can identify his mistakes and analyze them. He was displeased, for example, with the 2-1 fastball that Olson clobbered for his 35th home run.
“It should have been down and away,” López said.
López also observed that his rhythm was off during the fateful seventh. “I felt I was slow to home plate,” López said. “And they took advantage.”
The Royals scored their lone run in the fifth inning. Ryan McBroom doubled, advanced to third on Cheslor Cuthbert’s single and scored on Nick Dini’s one-out sacrifice fly.