The A’s were a league-best 19-5 in July, but have cooled somewhat this month, dropping six of 11 games in August to fall 6½ games back of Texas in the American League West.
But Oakland still entered the week just a half-game back of the Tampa Bay Rays and Baltimore Orioles in the AL wild-card race as they prepare to open up a three-game series against the Kansas City Royals today.
The Royals have been stuck at or near the bottom of the AL Central all season thanks to an early 11-game losing streak as well as a 4-13 skid coming out of the All-Star break.
The key to Oakland’s success has been a pitching staff that ranks fifth in the major leagues in ERA and is second in the AL in runs allowed.
Rookie Jarrod Parker, who take the hill tonight, was outstanding through the first three months of his rookie season — posting a 2.46 ERA through July 2 — and was a big part of the pitching staff’s emergence.
But Parker has hit the wall in recent weeks, yielding 24 runs over 36²⁄³ innings in his last six outings. He has had a particularly tough time on the road, allowing 10 runs and 17 hits over his last two away starts.
Kansas City will counter Parker with former Stanford star Jeremy Guthrie, who is in the midst of an awful season — going a combined 4-12 with a 6.10 ERA in 23 games with Colorado and Kansas City.
But Guthrie turned in eight shutout innings in his last start, surrendering just five hits in a road win over the Chicago White Sox.
Guthrie is 2-4 with a 5.56 ERA in nine career matchups with the A’s.
— SportsDirect via Reuters