The Oakland Athletics are beginning a stretch of nine straight games against the three worst teams in the AL Central, but the Kansas City Royals have proven to be a formidable opponent against them this year.
The Athletics hope they can break out against Royals starter Jeremy Guthrie on Tuesday night in the opener of a three-game set at Kauffman Stadium.
Oakland (61-53), which is in the hunt for an AL wild-card spot, split six games last week against the Angels and White Sox and now begins this run of contests against Kansas City (49-65), Cleveland and Minnesota.
"It doesn't mean because we're not playing teams above .500 coming up that you're going to play better," manager Bob Melvin told the Athletics' official website. "You have to keep grinding, you have to keep the intensity."
These teams have split six games this year, with the Royals posting shutouts in all of their victories. Oakland is hitting .180 in the season series.
"That's a team that's played us tough, and I think nothing's changed as far as that goes," Melvin said.
Oakland did enjoy success June 12 against Guthrie (1-3, 5.18 ERA), who allowed seven runs in an 8-5 loss with Colorado. Brandon Moss homered twice and Pennington also went deep to drop the right-hander to 2-4 with a 5.53 ERA in eight career starts against the A's.
Guthrie will make his fifth start for the Royals since being acquired July 19. He earned his first Kansas City victory Wednesday with eight scoreless innings in a 2-1 win over the White Sox.
He'll be matched up against rookie Jarrod Parker (7-6, 3.55), who will face the Royals for the first time as he tries to avoid losing a third straight start. Parker yielded four runs over 6 2-3 innings Aug. 6 his last time out in a 4-0 loss to the Angels.
The right-hander, who has a 5.12 ERA since the All-Star break, is 3-0 with a 3.96 ERA in his last four road starts.
He'll face a Royals club that has matched a season high by homering in eight straight games, with 15 in that span. Alex Gordon homered three times and Billy Butler and Salvador Perez had two apiece in a four-game split at Baltimore."We've been showing some signs of pop over here and that's what we need," third baseman Mike Moustakas said. "We got a lot of guys that can swing the bat with some authority."
Gordon was 7 for 18 in the Orioles series and Butler was 6 for 16.
The A's could be without third baseman Brandon Inge for an extended amount of time. Inge, who separated his shoulder in Saturday's 9-7 win at Chicago, traveled to Oakland for an MRI on Monday."The only report I want to hear is if there's anything I could damage that could be long-term," Inge said. "If there's nothing on film that shows that I can't hurt anything, it's play through the pain - whatever I can tolerate. I'd rather that than anything else."
|August 12, 2012||Brandon Inge||Day-to-Day||Dislocated right shoulder|
|August 07, 2012||Eric Sogard||15-Day DL||Strained back|
|August 05, 2012||A.J. Griffin||15-Day DL||Strained right shoulder|
|August 04, 2012||A.J. Griffin||Day-to-Day||Sore right shoulder|
|August 03, 2012||Seth Smith||15-Day DL||Left hamstring strain|
|August 03, 2012||Yoenis Cespedes||Day-to-Day||Left game - sprained right wrist|
|Kansas City Royals|
|July 28, 2012||Mike Moustakas||Day-to-Day||Left game - sprained right knee|
|July 05, 2012||Luke Hochevar||Day-to-Day||Sprained right ankle|
|June 18, 2012||Chris Getz||15-Day DL||Lateral strain in lower left leg|
|June 18, 2012||Chris Getz||15-Day DL||Lateral strain in lower left leg|
|June 07, 2012||Felipe Paulino||60-Day DL||Strained right groin|
|May 26, 2012||Jarrod Dyson||Day-to-Day||Left game - Right hamstring injury|
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Jeremy Guthrie learned in June what not to do against the Oakland Athletics .
Guthrie allowed only three singles in seven innings, and the Kansas City Royals rolled to a 5-0 win over the Athletics on Tuesday night.
Guthrie, who struck out a season-high eight, ran his scoreless streak to 15 innings, the longest streak of his career. He has yielded eight hits and struck out 14 in his past two starts, victories over the A's and the Chicago White Sox.
Guthrie (5-12) is 2-3 in five starts with the Royals, who acquired him in a July 20 trade with Colorado for left-hander Jonathan Sanchez .
In a June 12 start against the A's at Colorado, Guthrie allowed seven runs and eight hits, including three home runs and two walks in five innings.
"When I pitched against them earlier in the year every pitch I threw was the exact wrong pitch at the wrong time," Guthrie said. "So I had a nice blueprint on what not to do. I don't think I threw too many duplicate pitches of what they punished me.
"I gave up an awful lot of hits and an awful lot of long home runs in a short amount of time. They gave me a blueprint on how to do a better job."
A's manager Bob Melvin noticed the change in Guthrie's plan.
"He's a guy we handled pretty well in Colorado." Melvin said. "He's coming off his best game this year, and he might have been riding some confidence from that. But I'd like to think we could get some better at-bats against him. We didn't have a lot of good at-bats tonight.
"He worked ahead and had a good downward plane on his fastball, good movement."
Guthrie, who is eligible for free agency after this season, could be pitching his way into the Royals' plans for next year.
"I just felt along with Dayton (Moore, general manager), three or four starts and that would get him back on track," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "He's definitely on track. It's not really fluky stuff. You can see where this could be extended out start after start. I'm really liking what I'm seeing right now."
Guthrie was 4-11 with a 6.31 ERA as a Rockies starter. He credits Royals pitching coach Dave Eiland for helping him with adjustments.
"Had I not come over here and been able to work with those types of people, I might still be banging my head and still be making the same mistakes." Guthrie said. "It wasn't about getting settled in as much as it was getting better and making some adjustments."
Tim Collins and Greg Holland completed the shutout for Kansas City. Collins struck out all three batters he faced in the eighth inning, boosting his total to 77 - a Royals' strikeout record for a left-handed reliever.
The A's failed to get a runner past second base and were shut out for a major league-leading 14th time.
Alex Gordon and Eric Hosmer delivered run-scoring singles in the Royals' five-run fifth inning that also featured sacrifice flies by Chris Getz and Billy Butler .
Kansas City also scored an unearned run after Oakland second baseman Jemile Weeks failed to handle Alcides Escobar 's bouncer. That allowed Lorenzo Cain , who had walked, to score.
A's rookie right-hander Jarrod Parker (7-7) was pulled after 4 2-3 innings. He gave up five runs, five hits and two walks. Parker is 2-4 with a 6.15 ERA, and batters are hitting .309 against him in his past seven starts.
He was 5-3 with a 2.46 ERA and an opponents' batting average of .209 against him in his first 13 starts.
In the third inning, Josh Donaldson and Coco Crisp singled, but Donaldson was put out in a rundown between second and third. Right fielder Jeff Francoeur earned his 13th assist on the play, tying him for the major league lead among outfielders.
Notes: The A's placed 3B Brandon Inge on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained right shoulder. Inge joins eight teammates on the DL. The A's have used the DL 19 times this season. ... Oakland recalled INF Josh Donaldson from Triple-A Sacramento, where he was hitting .335 in 51 games. ... The Royals asked for unconditional release waivers on INF Yuniesky Betancourt , who was designated for assignment on Aug. 5 with a .228 batting average. ... Cain became the 13th Royals player to bat eighth. ... A's RHP Brandon McCarthy , Wednesday's pitcher, will make his second start since coming off the disabled list. McCarthy, who was out because of a shoulder strain, is 6-0 with a 2.25 ERA in his past eight starts. Rookie LHP Will Smith will start for the Royals.