ATHLETICS (76-56) AT ROYALS (47-87)
1:15 p.m. ET; FSKC, MLBN, MLB.TV
The Oakland Athletics figure to be short-handed Thursday afternoon when they go after a series win against the host Kansas City Royals.
The Royals retained hope of salvaging a four-game split thanks to a come-from-behind, 6-4 win Wednesday. The A’s cruised to a 19-4 rout in the series opener before prevailing 2-1 on Tuesday.
Hunter Dozier and Ryan O’Hearn hit home runs for the Royals in the Wednesday game, which prevented the A’s from having an opportunity to record their second four-game sweep in Kansas City in the past four years.
If the A’s are to win three of four, they’ll have to do it a man down — and maybe two — in the series finale.
Already without Khris Davis, who has left the team on paternity leave, the A’s had to remove Matt Chapman from the Wednesday game shortly after he was hit in the helmet by a Jakob Junis pitch in the first inning.
The pitch struck Chapman just above the left ear, after which he was able to talk A’s manager Bob Melvin into allowing him to stay in the game. Chapman came around to score later in the inning.
But after one inning in the field and another at-bat, a lineout, Chapman was given the rest of the night off.
The A’s will decide Thursday whether Chapman, their team leader in home runs and RBIs, will need additional time off. Melvin announced after the game that Chapman would not need to be placed in concussion protocol, although he did note that his third baseman was “a little blurry there.”
The A’s are expected to promote prospect Sheldon Neuse to take Davis’ spot. The outfielder will join recent minor league teammate Seth Brown among Melvin’s offensive options, with Brown having been called up earlier in the week.
Brown has already impacted the series. He recorded two hits Monday in his major league debut. On Tuesday, he made a diving catch in left field, then later threw out a Royals baserunner at the plate.
He also had a hit and drove in a run Wednesday.
“We expected him to hit,” Melvin observed of Brown. “For a guy that’s predominantly played first base to make a diving play like that in a huge outfield, and then a key throw at the plate, that gives us a little more knowledge on him. He’s not scared of anything.”
The A’s will take their cracks Thursday at Royals right-hander Glenn Sparkman (3-9, 5.52 ERA), who has gone 0-4 with a 7.50 ERA in his past seven starts.
The 27-year-old has never faced the A’s.
While the A’s explore minor league options for hitters, the Royals find themselves in need of pitching following the decision to shut down seven-game winner Brad Keller for the rest of the season because of arm fatigue.
Keller was the losing pitching in Monday’s blowout.
“There’s nothing to gain by throwing him any more this season,” Royals manager Ned Yost told reporters Wednesday. “I saw a drop (in velocity Monday) … and his inability to command (was evident). When you add up the pros and cons, there are no pros and a bunch of cons for him to keep pitching.”
The Athletics’ Thursday starter will be right-hander Chris Bassitt (9-5, 3.59 ERA), who has gone 2-0 with a 2.05 ERA in his past five starts.
He hasn’t pitched in Kansas City since 2014, and has a lifetime record of 0-1 with a 3.57 ERA against the Royals in four starts.
–Field Level Media