Series Preview: Oakland A’s, April 9-11
A lot of people were worried about the start of the season against the Angels who are expected to be one of the better teams in all of baseball. The Royals proved that we were worried for nothing, taking two of three from the Angels to start the year. For some reason I’m always concerned about heading to Oakland even when their teams aren’t especially good. My fears are somewhat unfounded as the Royals went 3-3 last year. So for whatever reason, I have a fear of Oakland. Maybe I’m having memories of Brian Bannister getting bashed around there a few years ago. The A’s made some moves this off-season, trading off two of their top starting pitchers and picking up a couple outfielders including Cuban stud Yoenis Cespedes who has started off well.
Standings: Last Place, American League West
- Yoenis Cespedes – .308/.400/1.077, 3 homers, 7 RBI (7 strikeouts, no walks, 2 HBP)
- Josh Reddick – .333/.333/.600, 1 homer, 1 RBI
- Brandon McCarthy – 2 starts, 0-1, 2.25 ERA, 12 innings, 6K, 2B
- Kurt Suzuki – .118/.118/.235, 2 doubles
- Really the rest of the offense
Monday marks the season debut for Luis Mendoza who will face lefty Tommy Milone. Milone made five starts last season for the Washington Nationals and went 1-0 with a 3.81 ERA. He struck out just 15 and walked just four. Control¬†has been a big part of his game throughout his minor league career as well, with just 1.5 walks per nine innings in the minor leagues. He came over as part of the Gio Gonzalez deal and the A’s think he has a very big future. As someone with very good control, look for Royals batters to look to swing early in the count when Milone tries to establish his fastball. While he doesn’t throw hard, he does get hitters out. I think Royals bats will do well against him. Mendoza needs to avoid the few hot spots in the A’s lineup and use the big park to his advantage and he’ll be fine. I think this game is winnable for the Royals.
Danny Duffy faces Graham Godfrey in this tilt, which is another late game in Kansas City. Godfrey is another A’s pitcher who made his big league debut last season and had some success. He had a 3.96 ERA in five appearance (four starts) and like Milone struggled to strike batters out. Godfrey has a traditional array of pitches (fastball, changeup, curveball, slider) and throws all of them for strikes. I don’t think Godfrey will ever be anything special, but he’s the type of guy who will put up solid numbers in Oakland due to the spacious park behind him. The gameplan against Godfrey should be similar for the one against Milone, but Godfrey is much more likely to sneak a fastball by you. Duffy needs to continue to work on his command and if he pitches like he did in spring training, this could be a nice season debut for him.
Here’s the matinee to end the series before the Royals get their first off-day of the season on Thursday, and it will pit both teams’ opening day starters against each other, Bruce Chen vs. Brandon McCarthy. When McCarthy was a super prospect with the White Sox, he was thought to be a guy who could strike guys out and might walk some people. Injuries derailed his career, but he’s evolved into the thinking man’s pitcher and has become the A’s de facto ace. He’s a solid pitcher and I think this will be the toughest game of the series for the Royals. They do have a legitimate chance to take all three games, which would make for a great atmosphere on Friday as the Royals open things up at home.
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