A's deal another blow to Royals' WC hopes

A's deal another blow to Royals' WC hopes

KANSAS CITY -- The postseason chances for the defending World Series champion Royals could now officially be on life support.

After crushing losses in the first two games of the series, the Royals appeared zapped of energy Wednesday night, mustering just four singles in an 8-0 loss to the A's at Kauffman Stadium.

The Royals remained five games behind Toronto for the second Wild Card spot in the American League. The Royals, who have just 17 games left, have lost three straight overall, and they've lost seven of their last eight at home.

Semien's two-run double

"Honestly, what is so frustrating is guys are coming in and doing what they need to do in terms of preparation," Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer said. "But it doesn't show up on the field lately. But you can't point the finger at anyone or blame anyone."

A's left-hander Sean Manaea, a former Royals prospect, breezed through five innings in his first start since Aug. 29. Manaea, who had been rehabbing a back injury, gave up three hits and struck out five.

Manaea's scoreless start

Yonder Alonso and Marcus Semien each had two-run doubles for the A's.

Royals right-hander Yordano Ventura struggled with his command, throwing just 58 strikes out of 100 pitches. He was chased after 4 1/3 innings, giving up seven hits and five runs while walking four.

"He was just barely missing with his fastball," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "He really struggled to command his curveball and his changeup. He did a nice job with keeping his ball down."

Ventura freezes Eibner

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Two-out attack: Ventura had thrown 11 pitches in the third inning when Alonso stepped to the plate with two outs, and the A's forced him to utilize 28 more before he was out of the frame, with three runs scoring in that span. After Alonso singled for his second hit of the night, rookie Ryon Healy followed suit ahead of back-to-back run-scoring hits by Semien and Bruce Maxwell. The A's had Ventura at 80 pitches by the time he took the mound for the fourth.

"There are a lot of guys getting quality at-bats," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "What Healy has been doing is terrific. He's really establishing himself as a good big league hitter. It's about passing the baton and putting a quality at-bat together and getting guys on base and giving yourself some opportunities."

Healy's RBI single

Missed chance: The Royals did have a chance to strike early against Manaea. Whit Merrifield led off the first inning with a walk. But Cheslor Cuthbert tapped into a double play. Still, Hosmer and Kendrys Morales followed with singles. But Salvador Perez, who like the rest of the Royals had never faced Manaea before, swung at the first pitch and hit a pop fly to right. More >

Perez flies out to end the 1st

Manaea sharp in return: Manaea faced a Royals club that drafted him with the 34th overall pick in the 2013 Draft then traded him to Oakland in 2015 for Ben Zobrist. Manaea responded by shutting down Kansas City while totaling 67 pitches as he retired each of his final eight batters, striking out four of them.

"I wanted to at least get two or three more starts in before the season ended, and today was a step in the right direction and I felt really good out there and even now," Manaea said. "Hopefully nothing comes up so I can finish the season strong." More >

Royals' booth on Manaea

Missed chance No. 2: With Manaea gone, the Royals mounted a threat against reliever John Axford in the sixth. With two out, Hosmer reached on an infield single and Morales drew a walk. But Perez once again ended the rally, this time by striking out.

"I don't think we had any real potential scoring opportunities," Yost said. "It was just one of those nights offensively where they shut us down."

Axford fans Perez to end the 6th

WHAT'S NEXT
A's: The A's will send right-hander Daniel Mengden to the mound for Thursday's 4:15 p.m. PT series finale against the Royals at Kauffman Stadium. Since being recalled Sept. 3 for his second big league stint, Mengden is 0-2 with a 10.57 ERA in two starts, though he limited the Mariners to two runs across five innings in his last outing.

Royals: Right-hander Edinson Volquez (10-10, 5.09 ERA) gets the start for the Royals in the series finale at 6:15 p.m. CT. Volquez went five innings Saturday against the White Sox, giving up nine hits and four runs in a 6-5 Royals win.

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Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.

Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.