Game time: 8:10 p.m. ET
Venue: Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City, MO
Where to watch: NBCSCA, Bally Sports Kansas City
Opening Odds at USA Sportsbooks
DraftKings: Athletics -160, Royals +140
Caesars: Athletics -157, Royals +147
Athletics: 77-66 (T-2nd place, AL West)
Royals: 65-78 (4th place, AL Central)
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A’s - Royals preview and analysis
A’s: 4-6 in last 10
Royals: 6-4 in last 10
Of all the teams trying to fight for a chance to play baseball in October, the Oakland A’s have proven to be one of, if not the most unusual squad of the bunch.
Because not many teams will get swept by the Toronto Blue Jays, win two of three on the Chicago White Sox, then respond by losing two of three to the last-place Texas Rangers at home.
The A’s are slowly falling back in the playoff race and now have to hit the road for what’s bound to be a difficult three-game series against the Kansas City Royals starting on Tuesday.
Just a month ago, the A’s were 19 games above .500 after stretching their winning streak to seven games and shutting out the Cleveland Indians to the tune of 17-0. Since then, the A’s are 10-18 and are in complete danger of missing out in the American League Wild Card race.
Somehow, the A’s have not been able to build off those two wins at home against the New York Yankees, who had a 13-game winning streak at the time of that 3-2 loss on Aug. 28. Since that, the A’s are 6-7 and have lost two of their last four series.
The most recent coming against the last-place Rangers from the American League West, losing 4-3 on Sunday when the bullpen picked up James Kaprielian from his rough afternoon (3.2 IP, 4 ER, 5 strikeouts, 1 BB). Matt Olson hit his team-leading 34th home run of the season in the bottom of the sixth, but the A’s went hitless in the final three frames. The good news is the A’s went 9-10 against the Rangers this season. That’s also the bad news. Texas is finishing in the bottom three of the standings. If the A’s miss the playoffs, those games will be why.
Then again, any team with a worst record than the A’s will be seen as a blown opportunity. Even if from the Royals, who are likely missing out on the playoffs being 13 games below .500 and 15 games out of a wild card spot. But the Royals come in winning three of four and have been a thorn in the side of playoff contenders like the Houston Astros and Yankees.
But if anything, we’re watching the Royals for the final 19 games to see if Salvador Perez can reach 50 home runs. The All-Star catcher’s power renaissance is currently at 42, and he’s also six away from 200 in his career.
There’s a certain buzz when teams are hoping for milestone events when the playoffs aren’t in reach. Every home game is going to be built with anticipation of what Perez can do with his bat. The A’s are struggling hard right now, and given Kansas City’s recent success against playoff teams at home, look for the Royals to pull off the upset in the first game of the series. Royals win 8-5.
The A’s are 21-9 (+9.4 net games on the moneyline) against AL Central opponents this season, and 47-18 in the last 65 games.
The Royals are 42-56 (+4.4 net games) when an underdog in 2021.
Athletics: 3B Matt Chapman (lower leg, day-to-day), SP Chris Bassitt (face, 10-day IL)
Players to watch
Athletics: If it seems like Starling Marte is on base almost every game, you’d be close. He’s hitting .317 his last 15 games, but also has six stolen bases and hasn’t been caught stealing. Considering he has 45 stolen bases and has only been tagged out three times, that’s astonishing.
Royals: Some more thoughts on Salvador Perez’s incredible season: In the last 20 games, he’s averaging a home run every two games (10) with 25 RBI. He’s boasting a .667 slugging percentage. What’s even more hilarious? None of his hits in the last 20 games have been doubles or triples. It’s been homers or singles.
Josh Harrison (R) 3B
Starling Marte (R) CF
Matt Olson (L) 1B
Mark Canha (R) LF
Yan Gomes (R) C
Khris Davis (R) DH
Chad Pinder (R) RF
Tony Kemp (L) 2B
Elvis Andrus (R) SS
Whit Merrifield (R) 2B
Nicky Lopez (L) SS
Salvador Perez (R) DH
Andrew Benintendi (L) LF
Carlos Santana (S) 1B
Adalberto Mondesi (S) 3B
Ryan O'Hearn (L) RF
Kyle Isbel (L) CF
Sebastian Rivero (R) C
Probable starting pitchers: Frankie Montas (OAK) vs. Jackson Kowar (KC)
Batting average: Matt Olson (.276)
Hits: Matt Olson (137)
Home runs: Matt Olson (34)
RBI: Matt Olson (98)
Stolen bases: Starling Marte (45)
Wins: Frankie Montas (12)
Saves: Lou Trivino (21)
ERA: Chris Bassitt (3.22)
Batting average: Nicky Lopez (.300)
Hits: Whit Merrifield (162)
Home runs: Salvador Perez (42)
RBI: Salvador Perez (105)
Stolen bases: Whit Merrifield (40)
Wins: Mike Minor (8)
Saves: Scott Barlow (12)
ERA: Mike Minor (5.05)
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