The visiting Kansas City Royals will take a celebratory mood to the field Tuesday night when they go for a second straight win over the playoff-contending Oakland Athletics.
The Royals (56-95) had reason to celebrate both before and after a 6-5 win over the A’s (90-61) in the series opener Monday.
The night ended on an exciting note when Kansas City rallied for two runs in the top of the ninth inning off A’s closer Liam Hendriks to turn what appeared headed for a 5-4 loss into a dramatic victory.
Brett Phillips hit a game-tying home run, and Adalberto Mondesi delivered the game-deciding double.
When Ian Kennedy locked down the win with a one-hit bottom of the ninth, the Royals had the type of winning day that manager Ned Yost before the game forecast would happen much more frequently in the near future.
That’s because Yost took time early Monday to congratulate the Kansas City organization’s four 2019 championships teams — Class-A clubs in Wilmington and Lexington, a rookie-level team in Idaho Falls, and the Royals’ entrant in the Dominican Summer League.
“We talked about putting the organization back in a good spot; every day we’re getting closer and closer,” Yost said to reporters. “That’s great news for our future — getting the organization back to a point where they can compete for another world championship. It’s going to be fun to watch the next three and four and five years.”
For now, the Royals will be watching the American League playoffs, in which the A’s hope to be participating for a second straight year.
Unlike last season, when Oakland earned the AL’s second wild-card berth and had to travel to Yankee Stadium for a single-elimination contest, the A’s are shooting for the top spot this time around.
Despite the costly loss Monday, Oakland opens play Tuesday with a one-game lead over Tampa Bay (89-62) and 2 1/2-game advantage on Cleveland (87-63) as the three duel for the two AL spots and a head-to-head matchup that will be played at the site of the team with the best record.
Many expected Oakland to schedule Mike Fiers (14-4) for that game, but the right-hander experienced numbness in his right hand in his last start and both his short- and long-term status suddenly is up in the air.
Fiers will have an MRI exam on Tuesday.
“He’s feeling better today. Hopefully it’s more muscular,” A’s manager Bob Melvin reported before Monday’s game. “Hopefully we caught a break as far as that goes. We have a little room to move things around with the off day on Thursday, as far as his start. But (we’re) not altering anything until we get that information (on the MRI).”
The A’s will send left-hander Brett Anderson (12-9, 4.07 ERA) to the mound Tuesday to face Royals righty Jorge Lopez (4-7, 6.09).
Both enter the game on a nice run, with Anderson having gone 2-0 with a 4.09 ERA in his past four starts while Lopez has put up a 2-0 record and 3.38 ERA in his past three outings.
Anderson is 2-1 with an 8.16 ERA in three career starts against the Royals. Lopez has faced the A’s just one time, getting bombed for five runs in 1 2/3 innings of relief (0-0, 27.00) on Aug. 26.
–Field Level Media