The Royals and the A’s have been a part of quite a few pennant chases when it was just the West and the East. It didn’t take long for the fans in Kansas City to forget the team that left. In fact, the Royals eight wins against Oakland in 1969 the Royals prevented the A’s for reaching the playoffs. (The A’s finished nine games back of Minnesota) It also helped that the Royals also were swept in mid-September by the Twins. Well the A’s have been surging lately and the Twins just swept the Royals. Let’s see if history can repeat itself.
Game 1: Bobby Cramer (0-0) vs. Luke Hochevar (5-4)
Bobby Cramer is thirty years old and is finally given a shot in the big show. He started this season pitching in the Mexican league and was assigned to the A’s AAA squad. He is among Oakland’s late season call ups.
Luke Hochevar. A name that I have not typed in a long time is making his second start. He went three innings against the Twins and didn’t experience pain in his elbow, which is what the Royals were most concerned about. I just want him to have his command solidified by season’s end. That way he will be able to build on that going into the off-season. Hochevar is looking to notch his first career win against the A’s. He is 0-4 with an ERA of 11.37.
Game 2: Gio Gonzalez (14-8) vs. Zack Greinke (8-12)
Gio has been solid in his last four starts. He has won all four in convincing fashion, including two scoreless performances. He is 1-1 lifetime against the Royals. With another win he would join Cahill (Wednesday’s starter) with fifteen wins. His win against the Royals came back in July of this year. This win was also against Greinke. Betancourt and Butler are the only Royals’ hitters who have had any success Gonzalez.
Greinke has gone eight innings in three out of his last four starts. His only decision during this span was the loss he sustained against Minnesota this past Tuesday. His pitching quality has been consistent but the Royals offense sputters or the bullpen coughs it up late. Greinke has been solid against Oakland in his career. He is 4-1 with an ERA of 2.89. That lone loss came back in July when he faced off against Gonzalez. It was largely due to Greinke’s control being off. He walked four and gave up four hits. In addition, the Royals’ defense made two errors. Greinke’s control has been good lately and hopefully will finish the season strong.
Game 3: Trevor Cahill (16-6) vs. Bruce Chen (9-7)
Trevor Cahill is definitely a Cy Young candidate. He would be a shoe in if he were on a playoff contending team. He is 7-3 in his last ten starts and has an ERA of 1.77 during that span. He has 6 scoreless efforts and only one outing that he gave up more than three earned runs. He has also pitched the Royals tough too. His most recent start against the Royals was a complete game shutout. He allowed only three hits, walked four, while striking out three. Overall he is 3-0 versus the Royals with an ERA of 3.38.
Bruce Chen would love to get win number ten before the season ends. It would be only the second time in his career he has accomplished this feat. Ten wins would nearly guarantee a spot in the rotation next year. He will have to do it against the A’s ace though. In his career he is 1-2 with an ERA of 4.04 against the Athletics. His most recent start was back on July 17th. He went 5.2 innings while giving up nine hits and four earned runs. In that start, he didn’t keep the ball down at all and was lucky that he escaped with a no decision.
The Royals offense is actually better than the Athletics in the two major categories that I mention frequently in my previews. The Royals current team average is eighteen points better and has hit seven more home runs than the A’s. However, the Royals will need to keep Oakland’s runners honest because they are third in the American League with 134 stolen bases.
Last time these teams played, the defense of the Royals practically gave the games away. Errors will cost a team dearly. The Royals have committed twenty-one more errors than the A’s this season. The Royals have also allowed 119 stolen bases this season. The defense will have to play error free and keep the runners close to the bag as much as possible. The pitchers will have to work their pick-off moves to disrupt the runners’ timing.
Oakland is sending their two best pitchers against the two best pitchers the Royals have to offer. Both teams have had shaky bullpens all season long, which is a big reason why both teams will be watching the playoffs instead of playing in them. Both teams want their starters to go deep as possible into the ball game and get to their closer as soon as possible.
The A’s have won three consecutive series to begin the month of September. This includes the Angels, Mariners, and Red Sox. Both teams will be travelling after Sunday’s game but Oakland will be making a two hour time change. The Royals have not been so fortunate. During that same span the Royals have been swept by Minnesota and nearly swept by Detroit.