Series Preview: Kansas City Royals @ Oakland Athletics

The trading deadline is past the Royals were a seller to playoff hopefuls in the past two weeks. They’ve had to replace their entire outfield and yet they managed to win three of their last four games, after losing five straight. On brighter notes, Coach Yost was able to sign a two year extension. This will bring stability, and hopefully more wines, to the fluctuating ball club.

David DeJesus’ surgery went better than anticipated and he expects to be back before the end of the season. Gil Meche, who has been plagued by shoulder problems all year, has decided to forgo surgery and rehab his shoulder to a point where he can pitch out of the bullpen during the last month or so left in the season. He commented at a press conference on Sunday that he wants to fulfill his contract obligations to the best of his ability.

The Royals are traveling to Oakland to open up a nine game road trip that also includes stops in Seattle and Los Angeles before returning home. The last time the Royals went out west they won both a series in Seattle (3-0) and L.A (2-1). The Royals are hoping to continue their three-game winning streak while the Athletics are looking forward to get back on the winning track after losing five out of their last ten games.

Game 1: Bannister (7-10) v. Cahill (10-4)

Bannister has been roughed up his past five starts (lost all five); including his most recent start against the Twins. This past Wednesday against the Twins he last six innings but gave up eleven hits, a walk and five earned runs. The week before against Oakland he gave up five earned runs on six walks and six hits. In his career he is 1-5 vs. Oakland with an ERA of 5.29.

Trevor Cahill, 22 year-old all-star pitcher has been struggling during the same five start stretch as Bannister, but not nearly as bad. He is 2-2, including a no decision against the Royals on July 17th. He allowed five hits, five earned runs and four walks in a 6.2 innings performance. Overall in his career he is 2-0 against the Royals with an outlandish 5.09 ERA.

Game 2: Davies (5-6) vs. Mazzaro (6-3)

Davies is going for win number sixth for the sixth time in a row. His last five starts have ended up as no decisions. Davies has not faced the Athletics this season; however he has had recent success against them. In his past three seasons he is 1-0 with an ERA of 5. Rajai Davis is on batter on the A’s that has had Davies number. He has batted .333 with a homerun career wise versus Davies.

Vin Mazzaro has been a Royals killer in his brief career so far. He already has two wins and will be looking for number three. His last outing he pitched a gem, going 7.1 innings while only giving up one run on seven hits and walk. In his last five starts he is 3-1 with his only loss coming against the Western Division leading Rangers.

Game 3: O’Sullivan (0-1) vs. Anderson (2-2)

O’Sullivan made a better home debut than his last start. He earned a no decision against the Orioles while going six innings and giving up three earned runs on four hits and three walks. All of the current Athletics that have batted against O’Sullivan are hitless (five).

Anderson is coming off a poor performance against the White Sox. He lasted only 5.1 innings while getting shelled for ten hits and five earned runs. In his one career start against the Royals he is 1-0 with a 4.50 ERA. However, he has faced only three of the Royals batters who is currently on the Roster.

Offense:

In the Baltimore series the Royals got clutch hitting from a variety of sources, including a walk-off home run by Alex Gordon. The Royals need to continue their timely hitting in order to put “Ws” in the standings. The A’s are currently ranked eighth in the American league with a .261 team batting average. Look for the Athletics to be aggressive against Bannister in game 1 who has struggled in his last few starts. Oakland is one of only two teams in the American League to hit less home runs this year than the Royals. The other team is Seattle.

Defense:

The Royals played mistake free in the most series despite the constant fluctuations in their lineup. They turned more than a handful of double plays to help their pitchers out of jams. Despite these efforts, the Royals are still ranked near the bottom in field percentage while Oakland tied with Boston for sixth in the AL with a mark of .984. The Oakland A’s however rank next to last when it comes to turning double plays. The only team who has turned less than the Athletics this season is the Angels.

Pitching:

The A’s three starting pitchers all have had previous success against the Royals. The Royals starters on the other hand have had mixed or no results. This lack of results gives the Royals pitchers an advantage because the Athletics coaching staff and players will not have as an in-depth scouting report as they would against more experienced pitchers. It is also very difficult for a pitcher to shut down a team every single time out. Which ever bullpen holds up will give their team the edge since all start.

X-Factor:

The Royals are traveling but with the time zone, giving them two hours of additional rest. This means fatigue from playing a game and a plane ride will not be a factor in game one. The trading deadline has past and the Royals are on the streak. They also have played well recently against the Western division. With a three game winning streak to top it off, the Royals are looking like a team that will enjoy their time in Oakland.

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