Judging from the past three days, you wouldn’t know which team at Kauffman Stadium was fighting for its postseason life.
It’s the A’s, long absent from the Wild Card conversation, who have brought the intensity and taken it to the Kansas City Royals. They took their third straight from the home team, 8-0, on Wednesday and will go for the four-game sweep Thursday.
The A’s have won five in a row against the Royals and lead the season series 5-1. Kansas City is five games behind Toronto for the American League’s second Wild Card, and they’ve got four teams to leapfrog to catch the Blue Jays, so the A’s are dealing quite the damaging blow to the defending World Series champions.
The A’s totaled just 26 runs in nine games on the last homestand. They’ve bested that in just three games on the road, racking up 29 runs since arriving in the Midwest. The A’s suddenly look like a supremely confident bunch swinging the bats, bunching together hits and sustaining long rallies. Royals starter Yordano Ventura (10-11) walked four and got touched for five runs in just 4 1/3 innings.
Meanwhile, A’s starter Sean Manaea (6-9) was excellent in his first game back from a minor back injury. The former Royals prospect dealt five scoreless innings and gave up just three hits to register the first road victory of his career. The lefty came in 0-6 with a 6.44 ERA in eight starts away from the Coliseum.
The A’s, 63-82 overall, have won six of their past 10.
Starting pitching report:
Manaea sliced through the Royals lineup for five innings and used just 67 pitches. The fact that manager Bob Melvin went to his bullpen early probably had to do with Manaea’s layoff due to a muscle strain in his upper back. The rookie hadn’t pitched since Aug. 29.
Flying under the radar this series has been the A’s stellar relief work. Their starters have left plenty of work left to finish, but Oakland’s bullpen has allowed just one run over 12 1/3 innings in this series. John Axford, Liam Hendriks and Chris Smith closed out this one.
At the plate:
The A’s applied the pressure right away against Ventura, as Joey Wendle led off the game with a single and Danny Valencia walked. Yonder Alonso came up with the bases loaded and blooped a two-run double down the left field line. The A’s tacked on three more in the third, stringing together five consecutive two-out hits off Ventura. Marcus Semien doubled home two runs with a drive to deep right and rookie catcher Bruce Maxwell singled to right to score another. Alonso enjoyed a 3-for-4 night.
In the field:
No errors from the A’s in this one.
The announced crowd was 30,006.
The finale of this four-game set pits Daniel Mengden (1-7, 6.39) against Edinson Volquez (10-10, 5.09) on Thursday at 4:15 p.m.