The first place Oakland Athletics survived the loss of their starting pitcher, Omar Olivares, just 10 pitches into the game and rallied to score seven runs late in the game to beat the Kansas City Royals, 8-3 in front of a crowd of 19,569 at Kauffman Stadium.
But in the bottom of the first, Olivares walked Kansas City leadoff man left fielder Johnny Damon. Damon stole second and went to third on an error on a throwing error by catcher Sal Fasano. And Olivares called out the training staff and told them that his shoulder was sore and he could not continue. Scott Service came in to replace Olivares and got out of the first with no runs scoring.
The Royals took the lead in the fourth. With one out, third baseman Joe Randa got to second base after an error by shortstop Miguel Tejada. Center fielder Carlos Beltran followed with a walk. Veteran reliever Doug Jones, who was a week shy of his 43rd birthday, took over for Service. Designated hitter Todd Dunwoody (who would go 4 for 4) singled to load the bases. Catcher Greg Zaun then hit into a force play and Randa scored. Shortstop Rey Sanchez singled to right to score Beltran and give the Royals a 2-1 lead.
Oakland's offense got started in the seventh. Tejada had a leadoff single against reliever Dan Reichert. Jeremy Giambi pinch hit for Fasano and singled to left and Tejada was at second. Long singled and Tejada scored the tying run with Giambi going to second. Velarde grounded into a double play and then Kansas City manager Tony Muser manager opted to intentionally walk Giambi, so Jeremy would be at third and Jason at first. Grieve then deposited one of Reichert's offerings into the seats to give Oakland a 5-2 lead. Damon homered for the Royals in the bottom of the seventh to make it 5-3.
Dan Murray came in to pitch for the Royals in the eighth and he was treated rudely by the Oakland hitters as he gave up consecutive home runs to third baseman Eric Chavez, Tejada, and catcher Ramon Hernandez. Jones picked up the win and Jeff Tam got a save with three innings of relief work.
After the game, the media descended upon Oakland assistant GM Paul DePodesta to see who Oakland would call up. Would it be top prospect Barry Zito? Chad Harville? Tim Kubinski? Luis Vizcaino? Rich DeLucia? As it was, Oakland gave Olivares next start to Ariel Prieto. Prieto wasn't a smashing success and on July 22, Zito would make his major league debut. Olivares would return to the rotation in August.
Oakland would win the AL West by a half game over Seattle at 91-70. Oakland ended up not having to play a makeup game with Tampa Bay because they would have won a tiebreaker with the Mariners for the AL West title as they had defeated Seattle 9 of 13 times.
Jason Giambi would have an MVP season for Oakland. He batted .333 with 43 home runs and 137 RBI. He also drew 137 walks. He had an OBP of .476 and slugged .647. Pitcher Tim Hudson was 20-6 with a 4.14 ERA. Gil Heredia and Kevin Appier both won 15 games. Zito would go 7-4 with a 2.72 ERA. Jason Isringhausen saved 33 games. Oakland would lose in the Division Series to the Yankees in five games.
Kansas City finished in fourth place in the AL Central at 77-85, 18 games behind Chicago. Damon led the AL in stolen bases with 46 and first baseman Mike Sweeney hit 29 home runs and drove in 144. Dye hit 33 home runs.
The Kansas City papers were reporting that Royals owner David Glass was about to name a new general manager, Allard Baird. Baird and Oakland GM Billy Beane worked out a big 3-way deal on January 8, 2001 along with Tampa Bay. Oakland ended up with Damon, infielder Mark Ellis, and pitcher Cory Lidle. The Royals ended up with Angel Berroa, A.J. Hinch, and Roberto Hernandez. Tampa Bay ended up with Grieve. In July of 2001, Baird and Beane worked with Colorado on another 3-way deal that saw Oakland pick up Dye and the Royals get Neifi Perez.
Of all the participants in this game, only Chavez and Sweeney remain with the same team.
Sources: San Francisco Chronicle, Kansas City Star, Retroshet, Baseball-Reference.com