The eldest member of the Royals settled into the batter’s box against the youngest member of Oakland’s pitching staff Friday. Raul Ibanez turned his head and trained his eyes on Sonny Gray. In their previous encounter, the 24-year-old Gray overran the 42-year-old Ibanez with fastballs before dusting him off with a change-up. Their fifth-inning duel was much briefer, and, for the Royals, more explosive. Gray taunted Ibanez with a 93-mph fastball at the belt. Ibanez rifled it over the fence in right-center, a solo home run and the lone bit of scoring achieved in this 1-0 act of thievery by the Royals. “They’re a great baseball team,” Ibanez said. “And we were able to pull this one out.” The Royals entered the lair of the best team in baseball, jabbed them in the middle rounds and feinted for the final frames to collect the decision. Jeremy Guthrie, 7-9, expended himself across six innings to mollify the game’s most potent offense. Ducking and weaving with traffic on the bases, he fanned six, as Oakland collected only four hits all evening. Gray matched him for seven innings and punched out seven batters of his own. Yet, Gray wavered for that one brief moment — Ibanez’s solo shot — and the Royals’ pitching staff never did likewise. Kelvin Herrera struck out two and stranded a pair of runners in the seventh. Working his third day in a row, Wade Davis bullied the Athletics in the eighth with two strikeouts of his own. Greg Holland wrapped a bow around the package with his 30th save of the season. “If you get a 1-0 win, you should be very excited,” Guthrie said. “Because it means you pitched well, you played great defense, and you got a big hit from somebody. That guy was Raul tonight.” The victory was exhausting. Neither Davis nor Holland may be available today. But manager Ned Yost felt he required both to record this victory. The Athletics flaunted their talent on Friday afternoon. A couple of hours before the game, the team introduced their new ace, Jon Lester, and a familiar face, outfielder Jonny Gomes. Oakland acquired the duo from Boston in exchange for All-Star outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. The deal was the first volley in Thursday’s explosive day of deadline deals. As the sparks flew, the Royals’ front office tilted at windmills, unable to execute any maneuvers. A day later, a few people in the clubhouse grumbled about the team’s lack of financial flexibility, which helped scuttle deals for additions such as Texas outfielder Alex Rios, Philadelphia starting pitcher A.J. Burnett and Phillies outfielder Marlon Byrd.
Raul Ibanez swats homer, Jeremy Guthrie stymies Oakland in 1-0 Royals victory
Kansas City Star | Aug 2