KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A night of little oddities began in the barber shop.
Eric Hosmer, about to make one of the most eagerly anticipated debuts in Kansas City Royals history, walked into the little room in Kauffman Stadium where players get haircuts and ran into Gio Gonzalez, the Oakland Athletics' scheduled starting pitcher.The two fellow South Floridians visited briefly and wished each other well, and then a few hours later Gonzalez struck out Hosmer in a key situation en route to the Oakland's 3-2 victory on Friday night.Gonzalez had pitched to Mike Hosmer, Eric's older brother, in a high school game and Eric had long admired the left-hander who was practically from his old neighborhood."It was kind of awkward," Gonzalez said. "Then he told me, 'Hey, I used to watch you pitch in South Florida.' It was pretty exciting."Gonzalez (4-2) gave up a home run to Alex Gordon in the first but went seven innings and allowed only four hits and two runs.Hosmer, getting a standing ovation before his first plate appearance, walked twice and struck out twice. With the A's leading 3-2 in the eighth and Jeff Francoeur on second with the potential tying run, Gonzalez got the heralded rookie first baseman to take a called third strike."It's a great thing that Eric got called up," Gonzalez said. "He's another South Florida guy and it's an honor to see guys like that come up and continue to do good. And he's going to be a big, big help to Kansas City. You could see it in his swings, the way he approached the game."Hosmer, whose .439 average at Triple-A Omaha was the highest of any minor league regular in the nation, was 0-for-2 with a stolen base and walks in his first two trips to the plate. Plus, he handled every chance at first flawlessly."It was humbling to go out there and hear how loud the fans get every time you come up to the plate," Hosmer said.The most ballyhooed Royals rookie since Bo Jackson 25 years ago got good marks from his manager."He did a great job," Ned Yost said. "His first two at-bats were phenomenal, tough walks against a tough, tough pitcher."Sean O'Sullivan (1-2) was almost as good as Gonzalez, but Oakland got to him for three runs in the fifth. The right-hander still managed a career-high eight innings, allowing five hits and one walk.Royals pitchers faced only four batters over the minimum and retired the A's 1-2-3 in seven of nine innings. It was also the first game in almost four years the Royals failed to record a single strikeout."That's a tough one to lose, a tough one to swallow," said O'Sullivan.O'Sullivan retired 11 straight batters before Kurt Suzuki, Ryan Sweeney and Andy LaRoche singled leading off the fifth. LaRoche's hit drove in Suzuki and Mark Ellis followed with a liner to left that glanced off Gordon's outstretched glove. The runners had held up to see if the ball would be caught, so the bases were loaded with nobody out.Kevin Kouzmanoff grounded to third baseman Betemit, who got a forceout at second as Sweeney scored. Then Coco Crisp's infield out brought in another run, putting the A's on top 3-2.Crisp was then thrown out trying to steal second and after that, O'Sullivan retired nine in a row before Tim Collins came in.With two out in the first, Gordon hit Gonzalez's 2-1 pitch over the fence in left. Matt Treanor walked leading off the third and scored on Mike Aviles' triple.The A's were scrambling to get information on the 21-year-old Hosmer."Anything we can get our hands on," said manager Bob Geren. "But the thing is, Gio is going to pitch his game and make adjustments in-game. See how he swings at certain pitches. The numbers he had in the minor leagues, they don't lie. So obviously he's going to be a good player."In the ninth, with much of the crowd on its feet, Hosmer took a called third strike again from Brian Fuentes, who got his eighth save in 10 opportunities."It seemed like the game went by real fast," he said. "I'm glad I can get that debut out of the way and move on from this. I'm definitely never going to forget this day."
Hosmer's mother, father, brother, aunt and uncle flew in from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., to see his major league debut. ... The A's have not been shut out by Kansas City in 138 games. ... Oakland's David DeJesus has not committed an error in 269 consecutive games, longest active streak among major league outfielders. ... The Royals moved catcher Jason Kendall from the 15-day to the 60-day DL.