Can the Athletics stop their struggles against the Royals?
The Oakland A’s may have a tough time this weekend. The reigning World Champion Kansas City Royals are heading into town tonight to begin a three-game series.
Unfortunately for Oakland they have a terrible track record against Kansas City, at least within the last couple of seasons.
Since 2014 the Athletics have played 13 regular season games against the Royals, 14 if you include the Wild Card playoff game in 2014. They have been victorious just three times.
Yes, you read that right. They have beaten the Royals just three times since the beginning of 2014 and 2014 was the year that the A’s started the season as the best team in baseball, only to fall hard.The collapse was so huge that they went from owning first place in the division to losing it to the Los Angeles Angels. The 2014 A’s ended up barely made the playoffs, sneaking in as one of the Wild Card teams.
Of course the team they were up against in that game were the Royals. They lost that playoff game, a game they should have won off of Brandon Moss’ two home runs alone.
The Royals went on to win the American League Pennant and in 2015 they became the World Series Champions. The A’s,on the other hand, had their worst season in almost two decades in 2015, ending the year with a 68-94 record.
It is a record that they are looking to beat – and by a lot – in 2016. The A’s won just one of four games against the Chicago White Sox to start the season, then swept the Seattle Mariners in a three game series and are now coming off being swept by the Los Angeles Angels. It’s been an up and down year to say the least.
The Royals are rolling into Oakland at 7-2, tied for first place in the AL Central with the White Sox. The A’s enter the series in third place in the AL West at 4-6. It’s a record they can easily come back from over the course of the season but can they do it against Kansas City?
The A’s have been struggling quite a bit offensively, averaging just 2.7 runs a game while batting .185 as a team during their last series with the Angels. Only two members of the A’s are even batting over the .300 mark – third baseman Danny Valencia and back-up catcher Josh Phegley. Manager Bob Melvin needs to change something in the lineup.
Veteran utility man Chris Coghlan has said that he knows the team can turn the offense around and it seems plausible. The A’s have some potentially good hitters if put in the lineup – but turning their offense around against the Royals seems unlikely given their track record.
Thankfully the problems that plagued them last season, a horrendous bullpen and dismal defense, have been corrected. Yet that will not guarantee them any wins this weekend. They are going to have to work for any wins and they will have to do it with some offense.
They are lucky to be at home however because when playing at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City the A’s are 1-6 (including the playoff game) there compared to a, not much better, 3-5 at the Coliseum.
Also, concerning is that the A’s most powerful hitter right now, Marcus Semien who has four of the team’s nine total home runs, has gone 1 for 15 against the Royals since joining the Athletics. To make matters even worse he’s been retired both times he’s faced tonight’s Royal’s starter Edinson Volquez.
There is also concern for the A’s when it comes to Friday’s starter Rich Hill who had a very interesting Opening Night against the White Sox, hitting the first batter he faced with the first pitch of the season. He went on to lose that game.
He came back, however, in his second start against Seattle to get the win, striking out 10 batters in six innings of work.
The remainder of the weekend could possibly favor the A’s, at least when it comes to pitching. Sonny Gray who finished third in last year’s Cy Young Award voting will be facing an inferior pitcher in Chris Young. On Sunday, the matchup will be between two-time Tommy John surgery survivor Kris Medlen and rookie Chris Bassitt, so in that game it feels like anything can happen.
Still, even if Oakland’s pitching can keep the Royals offense at bay, the A’s will need to find their offense in order to change their track record against the Royals and record a couple wins.