The Oakland Athletics and the Kansas City Royals conclude a three-game AL Series on Thursday afternoon. Paul Blackburn is aiming for his first win of the season for Oakland. The Royals give the nod to Carlos Hernandez who is seeking his third straight win. The A’s lead the season series 3-2.
Blackburn Starts, A's Playoff Hopes Dim
Paul Blackburn will get the nod for the sixth time of the season on Thursday. Blackburn had trouble in his latest outing, conceding four runs in just 2.2 frames against the Rangers, and was able to escape with the no-decision in a game Oakland won. The young right-hander has struggled in back-to-back starts and enters with a 5.24 ERA and a 1.57 WHIP to go with an 0-2 record in 22.1 innings of action.He has squandered five runs in 10 career innings against the Royals.
Oakland needs some late-season magic if they want to qualify for the postseason. They were dealt a costly series loss to Texas last weekend and are 3.5 games out of the Wildcard. The pitching hasn’t been nearly as effective while the offense has been fine. They stand at 3-7 in their last 10 games.
Mark Canha has been one of the A’s top hitters this month, collecting four homers with nine RBI’s. The 32-year old outfielder is a solid producer, bashing 17 big flies with 55 RBI’s on the season. Canha has two RBI’s in four games against the Royals this season. Matt Chapman is questionable with a leg injury.
Oakland ranks 13th in the Major Leagues with 4.56 runs per game. The pitching staff is sporting a 3.96 team ERA, good for 12th overall.
Hernandez Shines Again, Targets Another Win
Carlos Hernandez will be on the hill for the 23rd time of the season in this one. Hernandez was flawless in his latest effort, tossing six shutout innings against the Orioles, and was awarded the win to lift his record to 6-1. The young right-hander is enjoying a terrific rookie season, posting a 3.29 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP in 76.2 innings. He allowed one run in 1.1 innings in his lone meeting against the A’s.
The Royals won two of three over the division-rival Twins last weekend and rallied for a wild home victory in Tuesday's series opener against the Athletics. They have been competitive recently, winning four out of their last five games overall propelled by solid run production.
Whit Merrifield has been quiet, recording just three RBI’s on the month. The 32-year old right fielder is having a mediocre season for his standards, posting 70 RBI’s and a subpar .723 OPS. Merrifield has struggled against the A’s this season, going just 5 for 25.
The Royals are scoring an average of 4.24 runs per game, ranking them 23rd in the big leagues. They have filed a 4.656 team ERA, placing them 21st overall.
The Oakland Athletics are:
- 7-1 in their last 8 Thursday games.
- 5-2 in their last 7 games against the Royals.
- 11-4 in their last 15 games at KC.
The Kansas City Royals are:
- 28-65 in their last 93 games against the AL West.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
These are must-win games for the Athletics who are still in contention in the AL Wildcard picture. Oakland has feasted on the Royals pitching this season, averaging a terrific 5.8 runs in the six meetings entering Wednesday's action. Royals’ starter Carlos Hernandez issues plenty of walks and the A’s have the offense to take advantage.
Furthermore, Oakland starter Paul Blackburn has come through with a few solid performances this season. He limited the White Sox to just two runs and registered five shutout innings against the Yankees. Oakland is solid on the road where they are four games above the .500 mark.
Full-Game Total Pick
This one should go over. As mentioned, the A’s have fared well against the Royals pitching. They scored seven on Tuesday night and have averaged a solid 5.5 runs in their last 10 clashes overall. The over is a convincing 6-1-1 in the A’s last eight road games.
In addition, the Royals are producing at the plate. They have scored five or more runs in seven out of their last 10 games including 10 on Tuesday, plus A's starter Paul Blackburn owns a 5.27 ERA on the season. The over is 4-1 in the Royals’ last five home games against the Athletics.