OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Ned Yost will be aggressive on the basepaths with his young Royals team — even when it means missing some chances along the way.
Kansas City was thrown out on the bases three times in a 1-0 loss to the Oakland Athletics on Monday night, including in the first inning after the Royals put themselves in prime position to grab an early lead.
"That's the way we play. We play aggressive and we play to win," Yost said. "We don't play safe. We pick our spots, and give them credit, they executed."
A's starter Tommy Milone allowed three hits over a career-high eight innings in an impressive debut with his new team. Milone (1-0) faced the minimum in five of his innings, including getting through the fourth despite throwing only two strikes among his 10 pitches.
Perhaps for a night, Milone made it easier for the small group of fans who turned out at the Coliseum to picture life without lefty Gio Gonzalez. The A's acquired Milone from the Nationals in December, sending All-Star Gonzalez to the nation's capital.
Milone won his sixth career start after the Nationals won all of his five starts last season. Grant Balfour finished the three-hit shutout for his second save in as many chances.
"You've got to kind of take your hat off to him. He did a fantastic job of keeping the ball off the barrel of our bats," Yost said. "He did it by changing speeds, he did it by changing location in and out. We just couldn't center him up. We had two opportunities, two leadoff doubles, and didn't capitalize." Milone started the game by allowing a leadoff double to Jason Bourgeois, who was then thrown out on an impressive double play in which right fielder Josh Reddick caught Lorenzo Cain's liner and fired to third baseman Josh Donaldson, who backhanded the short one-hopper and put the tag on from his knees.
"It was one of those things he threw it right on the base and I really didn't want him to get to the bag," Donaldson said. "I used my catcher instincts."
Donaldson also delivered an RBI single in the second that held up for Milone. The A's missed chances to add on that inning, then Donaldson struck out swinging with the bases loaded in the sixth.
Luis Mendoza hung tough through 5 2-3 innings in the opener of Kansas City's lone trip to Oakland this year. The right-hander (0-1), who went 4-0 with a 0.47 ERA in six spring training starts, allowed one earned run on five hits, struck out two and walked four.
Those two strikeouts were impressive just based on who they were against — new A's cleanup hitter Yoenis Cespedes.
"I felt great. I made good pitches," Mendoza said. "Just in the second inning I think the umpire squeezed me a little bit."
Cespedes, who hit three home runs in his first four games that were all against Seattle, also drew a walk and grounded out. Coco Crisp, who moved to left field so Cespedes could start the year in his familiar center field spot, singled in the seventh then stole his first base of the year. Kurt Suzuki added three hits for the A's.
After a day off Sunday following two home games with the Mariners to wrap up a season-opening series that began with two games in Tokyo, the A's were returning to a more regular regimen.
Yost sat Mike Moustakas and Alex Gordon for the opener of the three-game series after Moustakas went 1 for 11 and Gordon 0 for 13 in Kansas City's winning series to open the year at Los Angeles. Yost said both would be back in the lineup Tuesday night.
Bourgeois led off in Gordon's spot and gave Kansas City more production there in one at-bat than it got in the entire three-game series against the Angels.
Kansas City is eager to return home this weekend considering the Royals haven't been back since before spring training began in February.
Notes: Yost will look to get Mitch Maier in a game this week after he didn't play in the first four. ... Crisp is successful in his last 24 steal attempts. ... Attendance was bleak: listed at 10,054 but probably more than half that.