Paulino never heard them. How could he out on the mound with the crowd roaring?
Yet he whirled around anyway and threw Weeks out with a pinpoint throw, getting out of a jam and keeping the Oakland Athletics off the scoreboard. He managed to get through six innings before turning it over to the Kansas City bullpen, which held on for the 2-0 victory.
As for the pickoff throw in the third, well, everything’s been going Paulino’s way lately.
“The biggest out was the caught stealing,” Yost said. “Paulino made a fantastic throw. We were all yelling, `Step off! Step off! Step off!’ But you can’t hear anything out there.”
Paulino stepped off anyway and made the key out of the game, and then came back the next inning and picked off Yoenis Cespedes when he drifted too far off first base.
The two outs in tight situations helped Paulino (3-1) hold the opposition off the scoreboard entirely through six innings for the fourth time in six starts, making him the unquestionable ace of one of the most haphazard starting rotations in baseball.
“Everything is going good for me,” Paulino said. “I got in a couple of situations in the third and fourth, but I tried to put up zeroes and I did that.”
Yuniesky Betancourt came off the disabled list to provide an RBI double in the first, and Mike Moustakas added an RBI blooper to left later in the inning, helping Kansas City win for only the sixth time in 23 games at Kauffman Stadium this season.
Both of the Royals’ runs were charged to Bartolo Colon (4-6), who recovered from a sloppy start to last seven innings—an encouraging outing after going 1-3 with a 7.92 ERA in May.
Jonathan Broxton worked a perfect ninth for his 12th save.
“I was able to throw some strikes,” said Broxton, who was facing the A’s for the first time since back-to-back hit batters gave Oakland a victory on the Royals’ opening road trip. “I started elevating, and once I started elevating, they started swinging right through it.”
The A’s have been shut out six times in their last 16 games, and have been outscored 39-12 during their current losing streak. They came into the night ranked last in the majors in batting average (.210) and slugging percentage (.338), and second-to-last in on-base percentage and runs.
“It’s pretty much the same story offensively. We’re having some struggles,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. “No matter what you’re doing, you’re always trying to find things to do to better yourself. We’re just having trouble doing it.”
The Royals nearly added to their first-inning cushion, but Alcides Escobar grounded out to leave two runners aboard in the first. Kansas City also left a runner in scoring position in the second inning before failing twice to plate a run with the bases loaded in the third.
Colon was brilliant over the next four innings, allowing only a two-out single by Escobar in the sixth and a leadoff single by Humberto Quintero in the seventh.
“A veteran like him doesn’t let a couple of runs early on fluster him,” Melvin said. “He just puts that aside and goes out and pitches the game.”
The problem for Oakland was that Paulino was just as good.
The right-hander wasn’t particularly efficient, burning through 94 pitches in six innings, yet he managed to keep a struggling Oakland lineup off balance all night.
Jemile Weeks led off the game with a groundball double that just skipped past Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer, but Paulino came back to retire the next eight in order.
He also set the A’s down in order in the fifth and sixth before turning it over to the bullpen, which has been stellar most of the season. Kelvin Herrera worked a perfect seventh and Greg Holland worked around a one-out walk before handing the game to Broxton in the ninth.
“Our pitching was phenomenal tonight,” Yost said. “Felipe Paulino threw the ball very well, and the bullpen did what it’s been doing all year.”
Notes: Cespedes (strained left hand) came off the DL to go 0 for 4. … Betancourt (right ankle sprain) went 1 for 4 in his return from the DL. INF Irving Falu was optioned to Triple-A Omaha to clear space for him. … Royals LHP Everett Teaford (lower abdominal strain) said he felt good after throwing BP. He plans to throw a bullpen session Monday before a rehab assignment. … Brandon McCarthy will start for Oakland on Saturday against the Royals’ Luke Hochevar.