Two struggling pitchers seeking an elusive win go head-to-head Saturday afternoon when the Kansas City Royals and host Oakland Athletics continue a three-game series.
The Royals’ Daniel Lynch got the better of A’s ace Frankie Montas in the series opener Friday, striking out a career-high 10 in a 5-1 victory during the clubs’ first meeting this season.
Right-hander Brad Keller (1-8, 4.74 ERA) will try to pitch the Royals to a season-high-tying third consecutive win as he attempts to shake off his worst outing of the year on Sunday against the Baltimore Orioles.
Keller, who has lost six of his seven starts since a 7-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on May 3, was roughed up by the visiting Orioles for five runs and seven hits in 1 2/3 innings.
The 26-year-old hasn’t faced the A’s since 2019, having gone 0-1 with a 9.45 ERA in two career starts against them over a two-year span. Only five current A’s players have at-bats against Keller, no more than three each.
The Royals’ new-look infield of second baseman Whit Merrifield, shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. and third baseman Nicky Lopez combined for five hits and three runs in the Friday win.
Lopez was just happy to be back on the field after getting some bad news earlier in the day, when he lost his arbitration case against the Royals. Instead of his $2.95 million demand, the 27-year-old will make $2.55 million this season.
“This whole year I’ve been thinking about it,” Lopez acknowledged before going 1-for-4 with a run. “Having calls with my agent constantly about it, just trying to get something done early, come to an agreement. Obviously, we weren’t able to. But it’s just good to have it done now, in the rearview mirror.”
In the Saturday rematch, A’s left-hander Cole Irvin (2-3, 3.34 ERA) will attempt to end a six-start winless streak.
He has pitched well in his career against the Royals, going 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA in two starts. That includes limiting Kansas City to two runs (one earned) in six innings in a 4-3 home win last June.
The 28-year-old served up a season-high five runs (four earned) in 5 2/3 innings in his most recent outing, a 6-3 loss at Cleveland on Sunday.
One bright spot for the A’s despite the Friday defeat was Jonah Bride, a 26-year-old who made his major league debut in Boston earlier in the week and went 3-for-10 in his first three games.
His home debut also was a success as he singled and walked in four plate appearances. Bride’s second-inning hit contributed to Oakland’s only run.
Bride started the game at second base, then shifted to third when Tony Kemp took the field after pinch-hitting.
A’s manager Mark Kotsay already has grown to like the options he’s afforded by a guy who possesses a good glove, too.
“He could be used at first if needed, but the primary spots would be third and second,” Kotsay said. “To have that versatility, you know, being able to catch and go play another position, it’s pretty awesome.”
–Field Level Media