A's welcome Royals seeking stability

A's welcome Royals seeking stability
May 17, 2013, 2:45 pm
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The A's face James Shield Friday, who is on a streak of six straight quality starts. (USA TODAY IMAGES)

INSIDE THE MATCHUP

- Kansas City went 5-4 against Oakland in 2012, but the A's won two of the three meetings on their home field.
- The Royals are 3-2-2 in their seven road series so far this season. They just won two of three from the Angels in Anaheim.
- Oakland is just 2-8 in its last 10 games, being outscored 49 to 28 and batting just .211 during this stretch.
- Alex Gordon is hitting .366 (30/87) with five home runs, 17 RBI and 19 runs scored in 19 road games this season. The 19 runs in road games lead the AL, while the .366 average ranks third.
- James Shields has six straight quality starts, posting a 1-2 record with a 2.13 ERA and .158 opponent average during this stretch. The six straight quality starts are tied for the third-longest active streak by ay AL pitcher.
- Josh Donaldson is batting .412 (21/51) in the seventh inning on this season, compared to .267 in inning 1-6. That .412 average ranks third in the majors -- one place behind the Royals' Alex Gordon (.417).

Kansas City's slumping offense seemed to come alive upon the Royals' arrival in California.

That's a trend James Shields would like to see continue when he takes the mound Friday night against the Oakland Athletics, as minimal run support has left him with an unimpressive record despite some outstanding outings.

The Royals (20-17) took two of three in Anaheim, capped by a 9-5 win Wednesday. It was their second big offensive performance in three days after matching a season high with 19 hits in Monday's 11-4 victory.

Kansas City entered the series averaging 3.3 runs over a 1-6 stretch. Billy Butler went 3 for 28 in that span, then broke out versus Los Angeles, going 8 for 13 with nine RBI.

"Keeping those losing streaks down is definitely key throughout a long baseball season," said Lorenzo Cain, who was 5 for 13 with five RBI and two stolen bases in the series. "So if we just continue to pitch the way we've been pitching and hit like we know how to hit, we'll be fine."

Shields (2-3, 2.48 ERA) has given Kansas City a good chance to win each time out, though the offense hasn't exactly returned the favor. He's recorded one victory over his last six starts despite a 2.15 ERA in that span, receiving three runs of support or fewer five times.

The right-hander suffered a similar fate Saturday as he limited the Yankees to two earned runs and six hits over eight innings in a 3-2 defeat.

"He'll be the exact same James Shields next time he steps on the mound," manager Ned Yost said. "He doesn't buy into frustration. He doesn't panic. He's a steady, steady guy. He's a pro's pro."

Shields was certainly steady the last time he took the hill in Oakland. He allowed three singles without a walk and struck out 11 while going the distance in an 8-0 win for Tampa Bay on July 31.

The Athletics (20-22) are certainly struggling coming into this meeting, having dropped eight of 10 after Wednesday's 6-2 loss to Texas. Oakland is 11-20 since starting an AL-best 9-2.

"We're not playing well right now and we have to power through this, win some games and get on a roll," manager Bob Melvin said.

Oakland's rotation continues to scuffle, posting a 6.69 ERA over the last seven games. It's uncharacteristic for a staff mostly intact from last year, when the team's starters ranked ninth with a 3.80 ERA.

Jarrod Parker (2-5, 6.86), one of the many Athletics pitchers failing to match his 2012 numbers, gets the nod Friday. He recorded a 2.88 ERA through his first seven starts as a rookie last season and finished with a 3.47 ERA.

Parker's latest outing was encouraging, however. He yielded three runs and three hits - walking four - while matching a season-high with 6 1-3 innings in a 4-3 win at Seattle on Saturday.

"One good start's one thing, but we'd like to see him get on a roll," Melvin said.

Coco Crisp was hitless in three at-bats Wednesday as he returned from a strained left hamstring that sidelined him since April 29. He's 3 for 17 with four strikeouts against Shields.

Parker gave up five runs and four hits over 4 2-3 innings in a 5-0 road loss to the Royals last season.

Kansas City placed center fielder Jarrod Dyson on the disabled list with a sprained right ankle Friday and recalled outfielder David Lough from Triple-A Omaha.

 

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