A’s open four-game home series against struggling Royals

MLB Kansas City

Left-hander Mike Minor will return to Oakland as a visitor on Thursday when the Kansas City Royals open a four-game series against the host Athletics.

The series pits the Royals and A’s for the first time since Oakland won five of seven overall during the 2019 season, including two of three at home that September.

Minor (4-3, 4.84 ERA) was completing an All-Star season with the Texas Rangers at that time. He was dealt to Oakland last August in exchange for two prospects.

The 33-year-old was brought aboard by the A’s to provide a veteran presence for last year’s stretch drive and, they hoped, an extended participation in the playoffs.

Minor went 1-1 with a 5.48 ERA in five games (four starts) for the A’s as they captured the American League West. He was called upon for just 3 2/3 innings of relief when Oakland was beaten by Houston in the AL Division Series.

Minor, whose 3 2/3 innings came over three games, shut out the Astros on two hits in those stints.

A one-year member of the Royals in 2017, Minor returned to the team in free agency in December.

Minor hasn’t had much success pitching against the A’s in his career, recording a 2-5 mark with a 6.05 ERA in 10 games (seven starts). He’s had particular issues with A’s outfielder Mark Canha, who has gone 6-for-15 (.400) with a double, three home runs and six RBIs.

Canha had two hits, two RBIs and scored twice in Oakland’s 4-0 home win over Arizona on Wednesday that completed a two-game sweep. The A’s have won six of the seven games they’ve played in June.

Canha triggered the play of the game Wednesday when his two-on, two-out drive to deep center field in the second inning appeared to have been caught by the Diamondbacks’ Ketel Marte.

But after a video review, the ball was ruled to have been dropped when Marte collided with the fence. Two runs scored on the triple for Canha, who scored one batter later on a Jed Lowrie infield hit.

“I thought I was out,” Canha admitted after the game. “Crazy play. I had no idea when they went to replay what they were going to do. I’m glad it worked out.”

Left-hander Sean Manaea and three relievers took it from there, recording Oakland’s seventh shutout win of the season.

The A’s have allowed just 19 runs during their past seven games, a stretch of outstanding pitching right-hander Frankie Montas (6-5, 4.52) hopes to continue Thursday.

Montas snapped a personal three-game losing streak in his most recent start, allowing three runs in five innings in a 9-5 win at Colorado last Friday.

He has never lost to the Royals in three career meetings, including two starts, going 2-0 with a 1.62 ERA.

Montas will be facing a Kansas City team saddled with a five-game losing streak. Whit Merrifield, however, extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a single in Wednesday’s 6-1 road loss to the Los Angeles Angels.

Merrifield’s streak includes a game last Friday against Minnesota in which he had a single, a home run and a stolen base — all in the first inning. He became the first player to produce that combination in the first inning of a game since former A’s superstar Rickey Henderson in 1980.

“It’s what I pride myself on,” Merrifield boasted after the game, “which is being well-rounded.”

–Field Level Media

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