OAKLAND, Calif. — Chris Bassitt had everything but luck on his side.
Making his first appearance on a big league mound in nearly two full years, Bassitt did almost everything right in a 2-0 loss to the Kansas City Royals Saturday at the Coliseum.
It may have been a lazy June afternoon at an aging ballpark to the 16,208 who came out, but to Bassitt it may have well have been a full house at Yankee Stadium.
"Walking out there, nothing really compares to a big league stadium," Bassitt said. "So yeah, it was a long time coming."
Alas, it happened to be on a day where the Athletics bats fell silent against Royals left-hander Danny Duffy (3-6) and two relievers as Kansas City snapped a six-game losing streak.
Bassitt (0-1) gave up three hits and one run in seven innings with one walk and six strikeouts. The Royals scored in the second inning when Ryan Goins doubled to right and scored on a single by Paulo Orlando, but Bassitt found his rhythm and didn't give up another hit in a 93-pitch outing.
It was his first big league game since April 28, 2016, the day he hurt his elbow and required Tommy John surgery.
The Royals added an insurance run in the eighth inning Alex Gordon hit his fifth home run of the season off Yusmeiro Petit.
The Athletics, meanwhile, had just three hits against Duffy and four overall in a game that was completed in two hours and 28 minutes. Duffy walked three, struck out 10, and looked much closer to the pitcher who was 21-13 in 2016-17 than the guy who had a 5.81 earned run average coming in.
"The bad swings that we did have seemed to be against his changeup and he threw just enough breaking balls to keep us off balance," Athletics manager Bob Melvin said.
Two singles by Matt Chapman and one by Matt Olson were all the Athletics could muster against Duffy. Kevin McCarthy pitched the eighth inning, and Kelvin Herrera got his 14th save retiring the heart of the Athletics order in the ninth, giving up a third single to Chapman.
Bassitt learned Friday with Triple-A Nashville in Round Rock, Texas, that he was needed for a spot start because Trevor Cahill had a sore Achilles. He'd been called up twice this season and both times was optioned back to Triple-A without ever taking the mound.
Promoted to the Athletics for a long relief role on April 20, he was sent back down six days later, having been only a spectator. He was back with the A's again on May 26, but sent to Nashville the very next day when the Athletics called up Frankie Montas.
Bassitt concedes his frame of mind hasn't been what it should be.
"Mentally, the excitement of coming up and finally getting that so-called monkey off your back and are pitching in a game ... and then you don't do it," Bassitt said. "When you get sent down, it's like, 'Come on.'"
The 6-foot-5 right-hander concedes it was nobody's fault really, because his role was long relief and at the time starters were pitching into the seventh inning.
"I'm going down, and I'm mad, but at the same time, how can you be mad?" Bassitt said. "(Sean) Manaea is throwing a no-hitter, we had a week of starters dominating. How can you be mad at that?"
The yo-yo effect hasn't done much for Bassitt's effectiveness in Nashville. He was 2-3 with a 6.10 earned run average and "a lot of outings I wish I had back because I had a negative mindset going in."
Bassitt described it as "hectic and crazy" and conceded, "I haven't handled it the best way."
All that baggage was with Bassitt as he took the mound Saturday.
"Tons of emotions, obviously," Bassitt said. "A couple of innings I was really sped up and trying to hold back a little bit."
Bassitt said he found catcher Josh Phegley, who came to the A's in the same trade along with Marcus Semien in exchange for Jeff Samardzija in 2014, to be a calming influence.
Depending on how fast Cahill recovers, there's no guarantee of a second start for Bassitt, but Melvin liked what he saw.
"Surprised that he went seven? Yeah. He'd only gone six in the minor leagues," Melvin said. "I think it's just getting an opportunity and knowing you've got to pitch well to potentially get another one."