American League Preview from The Sports Network|
Thursday, August 14
(All times Eastern)
Oakland Athletics (73-47) at Kansas City Royals (65-54), 2:10 p.m.
Probable Starting Pitchers: Oakland - Jeff Samardzija (3-1, 3.08)
Kansas City - James Shields (11-6, 3.25)
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Kansas City Royals are gunning for their seventh
straight series win when they wrap up a four-game set Thursday with the
Oakland Athletics at Kauffman Stadium.
The Royals have taken two of the first three matchups in this battle of
division leaders and haven't dropped a series since a three-game sweep at the
hands of the Boston Red Sox from July 18-20.
After suffering a lopsided 11-3 defeat to the A's on Tuesday, the Royals
responded with Wednesday's 3-0 victory behind Jason Vargas's three-hit shutout
and four strikeouts. Vargas walked four batters and retired the final 23
batters of the game. It was his sixth career shutout.
The 97 pitches were the fewest thrown by a Royals hurler in a nine-inning
complete game shutout since Tim Belcher delivered 90 on Sept. 2, 1996.
"He was pretty good and got back to being who he was," Royals manager Ned Yost
said of Vargas. "He was dynamic and was in complete control."
Omar Infante hit a two-run homer and Salvador Perez supplied a sacrifice fly
for the Royals, who have won nine of 10 and 17 of the last 21 games. Norichika
Aoki finished with two hits and a run scored.
Kansas City, which has scored three or more runs in 11 straight games, is just
a half-game ahead of Detroit for the AL Central lead and 5-1 on a seven-game
homestand. It will hit the road for the next nine games against Minnesota,
Colorado and Texas.
James Shields will try to pitch the Royals to a series win Thursday and
duplicate what Vargas did last night. Shields is 11-6 with a 3.25 earned run
average and tossed a four-hit shutout his last time out in a 5-0 win over San
Francisco on Saturday, posting five K's and one walk in that one.
Shields has won back-to-back starts and recorded his ninth career shutout. The
right-hander improved to 13-3 with a 2.49 ERA in the month of August since
2011 and has a 4-4 mark in 10 home starts. Shields has made 14 career starts
against the A's and is 6-4 with a 3.78 ERA. He recently defeated Oakland by
the bay on Aug. 3 with eight innings of two-run ball in a 4-2 decision.
Meanwhile, the AL West-leading Athletics have lost three of four games and sit
2 1/2 games in front of the LA Angels in the division.
Josh Donaldson, Jonny Gomes and Jed Lowrie provided the hits for an Oakland
offense that failed to solve Vargas. In Tuesday's blowout of KC, Donaldson
finished 3-for-4 with two homers, three runs scored and four RBI. Sam Fuld,
Josh Reddick and Brandon Moss combined for 10 hits in 20-hit attack.
It was different story last night, as Moss had the day off and Fuld and
Reddick went a combined 0-for-7.
"At times we're going to get well pitched games against, and today was one of
those," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "(Vargas) pitched a great game."
Scott Kazmir suffered the hard-luck loss in his pursuit of win No. 14 (13-5)
and served up all three runs and seven hits in seven innings.
The Athletics are 7-6 in August and have posted a winning record in 14
straight months, the longest streak in Oakland history. They will next head to
Atlanta to face the Braves for three games this weekend.
Aiming to pitch the A's to a series split Thursday will be right-hander Jeff
Samardzija. Samardzija is 3-1 with a 3.08 earned run average in seven starts
with the A's since coming over via trade with the Chicago Cubs. He was 2-7 in
17 starts with the Cubs, while Oakland has a 6-1 mark when he starts.
Samardzija threw six innings of two-run ball in a 9-4 win over the Twins on
Saturday. It was Samardzija's shortest outing in an Oakland uniform and he has
given up just two runs in each of his past two starts. Samardzija faced the
Royals once in relief on June 25, 2011 in a 3-2 Cubs loss at Kauffman Stadium,
as he permitted one run and one hit with two walks.
Kansas City took two of three against the A's from Aug. 1-3.
08/14 10:20:58 ET