Friday, June 21, 2024
5-Hour Energy

MLB Preview: Oakland Athletics (7-26) at Kansas City Royals (8-25)


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ROYALS RALLY FALLS SHORT: The Royals suffered another wild loss last night, losing 12-8 to the Athletics after coming up short in a 13-10 decision on Thursday vs. the Orioles…the Royals erased a 7-run deficit on Thursday and actually held a late lead before the bullpen issued 5 runs on 6 walks and 4 hits over the final 2.0 innings…the game script essentially repeated itself last night, as the Royals trailed by 7 runs in the 5th inning and cut the deficit to 1 run in the 7th, before the bullpen yielded 3 runs on 3 walks and 2 hits over the final 2.0 frames…Hunter Dozier snapped a 1-for-17 skid by going 2-for-2 with 2 walks, a double and a 2-run triple that brought the Royals to within 1 run in the 7th…Nick Pratto also had 2 hits—including a 2-run HR in the 4th—to mark his 4th multi-hit effort in 7 games since his April 28 recall, a stretch in which he’s batting .407 (11-for-27).

LO CAIN DAY: The Royals are celebrating Lorenzo Cain tonight, as he returns to Kansas City to sign a one-day contract and retire as a Royal…Cain played seven of his 13 seasons in the Majors with Kansas City from 2011-17… he is a two-time All Star (2015, 2018) and was named the MVP of the 2014 American League Championship Series…Cain led the Royals to a World Series championship in 2015, when he finished 3rd in the American League MVP voting…he was named Wilson Defensive Player of the Year four times, from 2012-2014 with the Royals and 2019 with the Brewers and was named a Rawlings Gold Glove Award winner with Milwaukee in 2019.

There will be an on-field pregame ceremony tonight beginning at approximately 5:45 p.m…special guests include former Manager and 2023 Royals Hall of Fame inductee, Ned Yost, former teammates Alex Gordon and Royals Captain Salvador Perez and Special Assistant to the General Manager, Rusty Kuntz.

Cain, a former 17th-round pick, had a 38 career bWAR in 13 seasons with the Royals and Brewers.

LEAN BACK: The Royals offense has been practicing its Lorenzo Cain “lean back” over the last two weeks, a 13- game stretch in which the Royals rank among the Major League leaders in several offensive categories…since April 22—two weeks ago tonight—the Royals lead the Majors with 6 triples, rank tied for 1st with 31 doubles, tied for 2nd with 52 extra-base hits, tied for 4th with a .276 batting average, 7th with a .469 slugging percentage, tied for 7th with a .339 on-base percentage and rank 8th with an .808 OPS and 68 runs (5.2 runs/game).

The Royals have matched or out-hit their opponent in 8 of the last 13 games, but they’re only 4-9 during that stretch, despite hitting .277 (33-for-119) in scoring situations, tied for 7th best in the Majors.

In 4 games since the calendar flipped to May, the Royals lead all 30 teams in slugging percentage (.634) and OPS (1.017), rank tied for 2nd in HR (9) and extra-base hits (23), and 3rd in runs per game (7.8) and batting average (.324)…they’ve scored at least 6 runs in each of their last 4 games, but are 1-3 in May.

LO-VE TO SEE IT!: The Royals have homered in a season-high 4 straight games and have drawn 6 walks in each of the last 2 games…their strikeouts are down, as Wednesday night’s 6-0 win over Baltimore marked their first game in six years in which they did not strike out, and last night they fanned only twice in 42 plate appearances.

Bobby Witt Jr. has scored a run in 6 straight games, matching a career best streak done last September… he recorded an RBI in all 3 games vs. Baltimore to begin this stay and went 5-for-14 with 3 extra-base hits.

Vinnie Pasquantino has an RBI in a career-best 5 straight games, a stretch in which his 8 RBI are tied for 2nd most in the Majors…he’s recorded a hit in each of those 5 games, in which he’s 9-for-21 (.429).

Salvador Perez is tied for the team lead with 6 HR and leads the Royals with 18 RBI…over his last 9 games, he’s batting .371 (13-for-35) with 4 HR and 11 RBI, including a HR on Thursday that marked his 100th at Kauffman Stadium, matching Mike Sweeney for 2nd most in this park behind George Brett (136).

MJ Melendez is batting .279 with an .846 OPS in his last 11 games, after starting the year 10-for-67 (.149).

In 4 games since his recall from Omaha, Maikel Garcia is batting .400 (6-for-15) with 3 runs and 3 RBI.

Michael Massey is batting .286 (10-for-35) in his last 10 games after starting the season 6-for-52, and he’s drawn 4 walks in his last 4 games after recording 31 strikeouts and no walks in his first 23 games.

YES WE CAIN!: On a scale of 17 to 38, the pace of play on this homestand has been among the wackiest in the league, but that hasn’t deterred the Royals standing as the fastest average game time in the Majors this season (2:32)…over the last 4 games, the Royals have played their 3 longest games of the season and their shortest…Tuesday’s 11-7 loss in 3 hours, 4 minutes was—at the time—Kansas City’s longest game of the year… the Royals followed that up with a 6-0 win in 1 hour and 59 minutes Wednesday night to mark the 4th-shortest 9-inning game in the Majors this season and the fastest game at Kauffman Stadium in 16 years…Thursday’s 13-10 game lasted 3 hours and 24 minutes to match the 4th-longest 9-inning game in the Majors this year, and last night’s 12-8 loss was their 2nd-longest game of the year, checking in at 3 hours and 11 minutes.

SERIES-LY THOUGH: The Royals are 1-9 in series play entering this weekend, including seven consecutive series losses since their only win from April 7-9 in San Francisco, where they won 2 of 3 games…after losing the 1st game of this series with Oakland, the Royals are in danger of another series setback…with a loss tonight or tomorrow, the Royals would clinch their eighth consecutive series loss, which would match a franchise record, previously set from Aug. 4-31, 2008…on the flip side, a win tonight would force a series-deciding game tomorrow, and would mark the Royals fourth consecutive 3-game series that came down to the final game, after their first six sets of the season were already decided before the last game.

VS. ATHLETICS: The Royals continue this season-long, 10-game homestand tonight with the 2nd of 3 games vs. the Oakland Athletics…the Royals have not won a season series vs. the A’s since 2015, when they went 5-1, and have lost four of the last six season sets, with two splits…in fact, the Royals have lost six straight series to the A’s at Kauffman Stadium dating back to 2016, a stretch in which they’re just 5-16 vs. the A’s, including last night’s loss.

These two teams split 6 games last season, with the Royals winning 2 of 3 in Oakland, before the A’s returned the favor here in Kansas City.

Lorenzo Cain hit .323 (32-for-99) in 34 career games vs. Oakland, his 2nd-highest average vs. any opponent (min. 5 games) behind the Rays (.365)…that does not include the 2014 Wild Card Game vs. the Athletics, in which he had 2 runs, 2 run-scoring hits and a steal in the Royals 9-8 win.

REMIX THE 6TH: From this day forward, May 6 will go down in Royals history as Lorenzo Cain Day, on which the franchise celebrated one of its most beloved players…Cain, who wore No. 6 for 12 of his 13 seasons in the Majors—including all seven seasons in Kansas City—homered in his 1st game at Kauffman Stadium as a visitor with the Milwaukee Brewers on April 24, 2018…Royals fans cheered Cain as he rounded the bases, at which point he had an epiphany…he later told The Kansas City Star, “That’s when I knew. When I came back and played, I just saw it, they showed me how much they cared about me, respected me and loved me as a player. And I knew right then and there that I was gonna come back here and retire. Because you hit a home run with the opposing team and they’re cheering, I mean, what else can you ask for?”

BRADY SINGER is making his 7th start of the season and 70th of his career tonight vs. the Athletics…it’s his 4th career start vs. the A’s and 1st since last June…Singer is in his fourth season in the Majors and was selected by Kansas City in the 1st round (18th overall) of the 2018 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of Florida. LAST START: Singer suffered an 8-4 loss to the Twins last Sunday at Target Field, in which he was charged with a career-high-tying 8 runs on just 5 hits and 3 walks in 2.2 innings, with 5 strikeouts…Brady cruised through the 1st and 2nd innings on a total of 24 pitches, and struck out two of the first three batters to begin the 3rd…but with one on and 2 outs, six straight Twins reached safely vs. Singer—including 4 hits, a walk and a hit batter—forcing his exit after 42 pitches in the inning…Josh Staumont allowed his first two batters to reach on a 2-run single and a strikeout/wild pitch, charging 2 more runs to Brady’s line, marking the second time in 4 starts that he’s allowed 8 runs.

Despite allowing 7 runs in the 3rd inning, Singer and Staumont combined to record 4 strikeouts, marking the third 4-strikeout frame in Royals history, following Nate Karns in the 6th inning on May 3, 2017 vs. the White Sox and Royals Hall of Famer Kevin Appier in the 4th inning on Sept. 3, 1996 at Toronto.

Singer threw only 67 pitches last Sunday, his fewest in a start since his final start of 2021 vs. Cleveland, when he exited after recording 2 outs on 18 pitches.

WALK THIS WAY: Since the start of last season, Singer has recorded at least 5.0 innings without issuing a walk in 12 of 30 starts—including 3 this year—which are tied for the 3rd most in the Majors, trailing Corey Kluber (14) and Aaron Nola (13)… he’s issued 44 walks in 183.0 innings since the start of 2022, and his 5.8% walk rate during that time is tied for 5th best in the American League (min. 18.0 IP), behind Kevin Gausman (3.9%), Kluber (4.0%), Shane Bieber (4.9%) and Cole Irvin (5.5%).

CASTING CALLS: In 30 starts since his May 17 recall last season, Brady has induced a called strike on 582 of his 2,871 pitches (20.3%), 4th most in the Majors, trailing only Gerrit Cole (594), Logan Webb (589) and Aaron Nola (583)…Singer’s rate of 20.3% called strikes since last May 17 leads the Majors by a wide margin (min. 2,500 pitches), ahead of Alex Cobb (16.8%) and Rich Hill (16.8%)…since his 2020 debut season, Singer’s called-strike rate of 21.0% ranks 2nd in the Majors (min. 5,000 pitches), trailing only Adam Wainwright (21.2%), who made his season debut today.

EYE OF THE TIGER: Singer pitched a career-best 153.1 innings in 2022 in a career-high-tying 27 appearances (24 starts)…he began the season in the Royals bullpen, but only pitched in 3 of the team’s first 16 games before being optioned to Triple-A on April 28…he returned to the big leagues on May 17 and made a team-high 24 starts from that point on, in which he went 10-5 with a 3.11 ERA (51 ER in 147.2 IP).

After last year’s breakout season, Singer has struggled to the tune of an 8.49 ERA (28 ER in 29.2 IP) through 6 starts…he’s allowed at least 5 runs in 4 of those 6 starts, something he did only three times in 24 starts last season.

Some regression back to positive outcomes may be due, as many of Singer’s numbers are actually better than last year…his 66.9% first-pitch strike rate leads the team and ranks 13th in the American League (min. 6 starts), a significant improvement on his 59.9% mark from last year…his .345 BABIP suggests some poor luck, as that mark is the 10th highest in the AL (min. 6 starts).

CHANGE OF TUNE: Brady threw 182 changeups in 24 starts last year, which accounted for 8.0% of his 2,273 pitches after returning from Triple-A Omaha last May 17…that total was more than double the 88 changeups he threw in 27 starts in 2021, which equaled 3.8% of his pitches thrown…after returning from Omaha last May 17 with a focus on mixing in the changeup, Singer went 10-5 with a 3.11 ERA (51 ER in 147.2 IP), after going 9-15 with a 4.67 ERA (103 ER in 198.1 IP) in his previous 42 career appearances (39 starts)…from last May 17 through last season’s end, opponents went 8-for-34 (.235) vs. his changeup…through 6 starts this season, the changeup has accounted for 8.1% of his pitches, and opponents are 2-for-7 in at-bats ending on the pitch.

VS. ATHLETICS: Singer is 0-2 with a 4.58 ERA (10 ER in 19.2 IP) in 3 career starts vs. the A’s, despite holding them to a .237 average (18-for-76)…he faced them twice last season and lost both times, including last June 26 here at Kauffman Stadium, where he pitched a career-high 8.1 innings but was charged with 5 runs (4 ER) on 7 hits…only three players on the A’s active roster have faced Singer, and that trio of Nick Allen, Tony Kemp and Ramón Laureano is 1-for-14 vs. him.

HOME: Since the start of last season, Singer is 9-4 with a 3.53 ERA (43 ER in 109.2 IP) in 18 outings (17 starts) at Kauffman Stadium…more than 30% of the earned runs he’s allowed here since last year have come in his last 2 starts vs. Atlanta and Texas, in which he’s 0-2 with 13 runs allowed in 10.0 innings…these consecutive home losses for Brady come on the heels of a 10-start home stretch in which he went 7-0 with a 1.68 ERA (12 ER in 64.1 IP). Ê Despite his last 2 home starts, Singer has held opponents to a .233 average in his last 12 starts here since last July, in which the Royals are 9-3.

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