The A’s won series against the Reds, Cardinals and Cubs on their most recent home stand, furthering their solid interleague record to 11-4 while helping maintain a half-game lead on the Rangers in the American League West.
A very important development from Thursday’s game was the return of Dan Straily, who allowed just two hits in seven innings after three-straight poor outings both in the majors and with Triple-A Sacramento. Straily was promoted sooner than originally anticipated when Jarrod Parker’s start was pushed back from Thursday to Saturday after to give his hamstring more time to heal.
The A’s (50-36) head to Kansas City with just a .500 road record that can be traced directly to the pitching staff. The team has a collective ERA of 4.14 away from Oakland, compared to a 3.37 in O.Co Coliseum.
The Royals (40-42) enter the series with an offense that’s in 17th in baseball in runs despite being ranked 27th in slugging (.379). Their pitching staff has been solidwith the additions of James Shields and Ervin Santana. Their relievers have also been good so far, registering a 2.90 ERA with a 657 OPS against.
Looking to improve his home and road splits, Tommy Milone (7-7, 4.17 ERA) gets the start Friday against Wade Davis (4-6, 5.55). Milone has struggled in his last four starts (5.96 ERA and 26 hits allowed in 22.2 frames) and has a 5.07 on the road this year. The A’s will need the left-hander to be more effective – especially on the road – as the season goes on.
Davis joined the Royals in the James Shields trade with Tampa Bay in the offseason and hasn’t thrown very well for his new organization. The right-hander will be looking to rebound from getting knocked out in the second inning of his last start in Minnesota after allowing six runs. Hitters have a .328/.395/.483 slash line against Davis this year.
Saturday’s game will see Santana (5-5, 2.84) and the return of Parker (6-6, 4.11) after getting his start pushed back from Thursday to Saturday after leaving his previous start with a hamstring injury. Santana received the loss in May 18’s loss in Oakland after throwing seven innings of two-run ball. Overall, Santana has been very good with his new club and is posting career-best numbers in ERA (2.84), WHIP (1.04), hits per nine innings (7.5) and K:BB ratio (4.05).
Parker has won his last four decisions while the A’s are 7-4 in his starts dating back to the start of May after his rough April. He was throwing very well in his last start against the Cardinals before suffering the hamstring injury in the fourth inning. His fastball had good life while matching Cy Young candidate Adam Wainwright pitch for pitch. With extra rest, Parker faces another tough pitching match up in Santana.
The series ends Sunday with A.J. Griffin (6-6, 3.95) taking on Luis Mendoza (2-4, 4.41). Griffin’s home and road splits are a relative wash, although he’s allowed 10 of his 16 home runs away from Oakland. But Griffin is coming off arguably his worst outing of the season against the Cubs, when he got roughed up for seven runs before the A’s ended up pulling out the win. Alfonso Soriano had the big blow with his three-run homer in the fourth inning.
Mendoza struggles with command at times, leading to a 1.50 K:BB ratio and walked four Indians in his last start when he lasted just four innings after allowing four runs. The righty only throws three pitches and relies heavily on his curveball as a secondary pitch while throwing his changeup less than six percent of the time.