AL Wildcard Game Preview: Athletics (88-74) at Royals (89-73)


Tuesday night Kauffman Stadium will be rocking when playoff baseball returns for the first time since 1985. They’ll face the Oakland Athletics who are a perennial postseason team that will start noted Royals nemesis Jon Lester.

After all eyes were on Arrowhead last night for Monday Night Football, the focus shifts across the parking lot to Kauffman Stadium for playoff baseball tonight. Photo Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

So let’s dive into this one game, winner moves to the AL Divisional Series against the Los Angeles Angels.

Probable Pitching Match-ups:
Tuesday, 7:07 pm – Jon Lester/LHP (16-11, 2.46) v. James Shields/RHP (14-8, 3.21)

Comments on Pitching Match-ups – Look I’m not going to blow any smoke your way about Lester and how successful he’s been against Kansas City but give you the numbers. This season he’s 3-0 with starts in Boston, Oakland and the K versus our Royals going eight (115 pitches), six 2/3 (104) and six innings (99) this season allowing six runs all earned, striking out 20 while walking just five. In the postseason he’s 6-4 but last year during Boston’s World Series run went 4-1 defeating Tampa Bay, Detroit and St. Louis twice. Tough yes, but the silver lining is that Kansas City has fared better each time they’ve seen him this season even if he’s 9-3 all-time versus our boys in blue he’s 2-3 at Kauffman Stadium with a career 3.10 ERA in five starts.

In the blue corner is Juego G, the man traded for to bring postseason baseball to the City of Fountains. Shields started twice against Oakland in 2014 which includes a gem on August 3 at the Coliseum where he went eight innings allowing two runs on four hits on 102 pitches. His second start was at home 11 days later on August 14 which he went six innings receiving a no-decision after allowing three runs on seven hits and striking out five, KC did win that game 7-3. He’s made six postseason starts, went 2-2 in 2008, 0-1 in both 2010 and ’11. Shields owns the lone World Series victory in Rays franchise history six years ago this October. Did he struggle this weekend? Yes, but this game is why he was acquired where sure it been nice to play on the road there’s nothing that can be done now but hope he pitches lights out.

Game Prediction – Kansas City has the advantage of being at home and just needing to grab a lead and have Big Game James get it to the seventh inning. Yes, Oakland has experience on their roster of playing postseason baseball where a small number of Royals can say that. During the regular season KC took five of seven from the A’s when they were playing much better than they currently are. I’m aware of how this team has played in front of big crowds, but hoping that things will be different and KC hangs that “W” for the first time since 1985 and advances to the next step. Prediction: Royals do enough to win   

2014 Meetings:
August 11-14 these teams squared off with Kansas City taking three of four with the lone loss coming at the hands of Lester. They outscored the Athletics 16-14 over that series winning 3-2, 3-0, 7-3 with a 11-3 defeat. Kelvin Herrera, Jason Vargas, Aaron Crown picked up wins while Greg Holland picked up two saves Jeremy Guthrie suffered the lone defeat.

Franchise History:
All-time the Oakland Athletics hold a 307-254 series advantage but in Kansas City trail 143-138 while the Royals are 127-118 at Kauffman Stadium against the A’s.

TV/Radio Coverage:
TBS will have national coverage of the game on Tuesday night with first pitch scheduled for 7:07 pm from Kauffman Stadium. Ernie Johnson Jr., Ron Darling and Cal Ripken who’ll be join by Matt Winer will have the call.

ESPN Radio will also be broadcasting from the K for a national audience with Jon “Boog” Sciambi and Chris Singleton live from Kansas City.

Royals Radio Network (610 Sports Radio in KC) begins their coverage with the Josh Vernier hosting the pregame show before handing it over to Royals Hall of Famer/2007 Ford C. Frick Award winner Denny Matthews who’ll be joined by Ryan Lefebvre, Steve Physioc and Steve Stewart. Vernier hosts the postgame after the conclusion of the game.

FOX Sports Kansas City will have the postgame show live from Rivals in right field hosted by Joel Goldberg who’ll be joined by Jeff Montgomery, Rex Hudler and Lefebvre right after the game is over.

2014 Regular Series Schedule/Results v. Athletics (KC 5-2)
August 1-3, Coliseum – W 1-0, L 8-3, W 4-2
August 11-14, Kauffman Stadium – W 3-2, L 11-3, W 3-0, W 7-3

Game Notes:
Oakland Athletics
Kansas City Royals