Oakland 5, Kansas City 1 (WPA Graph from Fangraphs)
Oakland 6, Kansas City 5 (WPA Graph from Fangraphs)
Oakland 9, Kansas City 6 (WPA Graph from Fangraphs)
A's Current Record: 46-46
With the A's five game win streak, they've reached the .500 mark for the first time since mid-June. They were aided by series' against the Pirates, Orioles, Indians, and Royals over that stretch, but .500 isn't the worst place in the world to be at this point in the season.
Friday's game was a replica of any number of A's wins this year: very good pitching with just enough offense. Gio Gonzalez did his best Trevor Cahill impression, going seven innings while giving up one run on seven hits. He struck out just three, but he also walked only one Royal and managed to induce 14 groundballs. While the low K total isn't the best sign in the world, perhaps if Gio trades some Ks for more grounders and fewer walks he'll be more effective in the long run.
Offensively, the A's were able to take advantage of a couple of Kansas City miscues to score five runs. They did this despite not hitting the ball especially hard off of Zack Greinke, and in spite of the fact that Daric Barton continues to bunt like its 1899. Barton's latest shennanigans took place with the A's up by three in the third inning with runners on first and second. Even though Greinke's a dominating pitcher, Barton's really got to swing the bat there to try to break the game wide open.
Game two of the series was far less typical of the A's season, with Trevor Cahill getting knocked around and the A's scoring off of Royals closer Joakim Soria to take the lead in the ninth. Cahill only had one bad inning, giving up five runs in the second; the big blast being a Yuniesky Betancourt grand slam. After giving up a Scott Podsednik triple immediately following Betancourt's blast, Cahill retired the next 16 Royals in a row, before Betancourt struck again with a double that helped chase Cahill in the seventh. After the second inning, Cahill did what he had to do to keep the game close and the A's took advantage, scoring single runs in the sixth, seventh, and ninth to take the victory.
Yesterday's game was basically a blow out, even if the final score shows only a three run margin. The A's jacked three homers, and magically more than doubled their average offensive output by scoring nine runs. Adam Rosales continues to show that he's a valuable player, starting at first base and homering in the process. Jack Cust also continued to prove that the A's made a mistake starting the season with him in AAA and is now batting .287/.388/.441 on the year. Kevin Kouzmanoff also homered.
A sweep of the Royals is not at all surprising, though the heat and humidity took a toll on the team. Daric Barton had to miss Sunday's game, and Ryan Sweeney missed the series with balky knees. On the other side of the injury coin are Dallas Braden and Brett Anderson. Braden will return to the A's on Tuesday, while Anderson has started his rehab stint and may be back later this month. With the Red Sox coming to town the A's get to prove that they may be better than a .500 team and can actually do damage against a legitimately good team. I wouldn't bet on it, but with the A's facing two of the Red Sox weaker starters, they do have a chance to surprise.