Rain wipes out Loaiza’s bad outing, but not concerns

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP)—The weather wiped out one of the worst performances of Esteban Loaiza’s career. Erasing it from his mind won’t be so easy.

Oakland’s struggling right-hander lasted only into the second inning Saturday night, giving up six walks and Reggie Sanders’ grand slam, but got off the hook when the Athletics’ game against the Kansas City Royals was called in the bottom of the third because of rain with the Royals up 6-1.

The rainout preserved Oakland’s 11-game winning streak in Kansas City and wiped away all the stats that had been accrued. The game will be made up as part of a doubleheader on Aug. 18.

But even with the break the weather dealt him, Loaiza remains 0-3 with an 8.35 ERA. Questions abound about his velocity and health. His fastball never moved out of the low 80s on Saturday night, and had the game stood, his six walks would have tied a career high.

“Two outings ago, I was throwing 91, 90, and everything was good,” said Loaiza, lifted in the second after opening the inning with two walks. “It’s just one of those things. I don’t know where my velocity is at.”

Loaiza has gone more than five innings only once in his four previous starts, leaving his last outing—April 23 against the Los Angeles Angels— after 3 2-3 innings because of a spasm in the left side of his upper back.

He had a similar problem in spring training but insisted he felt fine when he took the mound Saturday night. That said, he acknowledged manager Ken Macha’s concerns.

“I know the coaching staff and the manager are probably thinking, ‘What’s going on?’ A lot of stuff’s going through his head,” Loaiza said. “He wants me to do the best. He wants me to be out there, and I want to be out there and be the best.”

Macha said he would wait until Sunday to talk to Loaiza.

“We’ll have a sit-down and figure out what’s going on,” Macha said. “The velocity is still a problem—and today, six walks, that’s also a problem. Giving us one inning creates some problems with demands on the bullpen, so we kind of dodged a huge bullet today.”

For the Royals, who haven’t won a home series against Oakland since July 1999, the rainout was yet another disappointment in an already awful season.

“You can’t assume the outcome, obviously,” said starter Jeremy Affeldt, who had five strikeouts in three innings. “But I think the way we were playing, defensively and offensively, you’ve got to think we’d have gotten a break there—and then this happened.”

Kerry Robinson, called up from Triple-A Omaha on Saturday, led off the Royals first with a single. Mark Grudzielanek and Doug Mientkiewicz walked to load the bases, and Sanders drove Loaiza’s 0-1 pitch well up the hill beyond the left-field wall.

It would have been the sixth grand slam of his career and first since June 4, 2005, at Houston with St. Louis.

“It’s an ‘eat-‘em,”’ Sanders said. “You just have to eat it. There’s nothing else you can do.”

The Royals loaded the bases again on Matt Stairs’ double and walks by Mark Teahen and John Buck, and Robinson beat out a chopper in front of the plate for a two-out RBI single and a 5-0 lead.

“The walks, I guess they were just taking,” Loaiza said. “I felt like sometimes I put a couple of balls low down the middle of the plate and (umpire Mike Reilly) called them for balls, and I thought they were strikes. You never know what’s going to happen, but that’s baseball.”

Eric Chavez hit an RBI double in the third for Oakland, but Grudzielanek answered with an RBI double in the bottom half for a 6-1 lead. The game then went into a rain delay and was called after 1 hour, 41 minutes.

Notes

Oakland OF Milton Bradley was held out with a sore left knee. Macha said Bradley worked out for trainers Saturday and had pain in his knee when he moved to his left. He has not played since Tuesday. … Robinson was called up when the Royals put CF Shane Costa on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left hamstring. Costa, who had been filling in because of David DeJesus’ hamstring strain, hurt himself running out a double in Friday night’s 5-3 loss to Oakland. … Royals slugger Mike Sweeney, who strained his back diving out of the way of a pitch in the ninth inning Friday, was not in the lineup and is day-to-day. Stairs replaced him as the DH.

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