Teammate Tim Hudson should be the leader.
Hudson won for just the second time since April 16 with Tuesday’s 4-1 victory over the Minnesota Twins, surrendering just one run and five hits over eight innings. While striking out five without issuing a walk, Hudson allowed just one runner to reach third base and retired the final seven he faced.
After opening the season 1-1 with a 4.74 ERA, Hudson is 3-0 with a 1.98 ERA over his last seven starts. Poor run support is the only thing that has kept him from winning more games despite Oakland’s outstanding start.
“I’m happy he finally got a win after he’s been pitching so well for so long without getting anything,” Oakland manager Ken Macha said. “It’s more than a solid outing. It’s outstanding.”
Hudson has been particularly dominant over his last four outings, pitching eight innings each time and yielding a combined five runs, while striking out 17 and walking just four.
The Athletics’ seven-game winning streak against the Royals was snapped with Saturday’s 3-1 loss.
“There’s no question we struggled with this club last year,” Royals manager Tony Pena said. “But we’re going to beat a lot of teams we haven’t beaten before.”
STANDINGS (through May 23): Royals - 2nd place, 1 1/2 GB, AL Central. Athletics - 2nd place, 3 GB, AL West.
ROYALS PROBABLE STARTER: Darrell May (0-1, 4.32 ERA). May has been shuffled between the starting rotation and the bullpen, going 0-1 with a 4.86 ERA over seven starts. The left-hander didn’t figure in the decision in Kansas City’s 7-4 loss to Seattle on Tuesday, allowing three runs and six hits over 5 1-3 innings, with six strikeouts and just two walks. May is 0-1 with a 4.58 ERA in five career appearances, including two starts, against Oakland.
ATHLETICS PROBABLE STARTER: Hudson (4-1, 2.69 ERA). Hudson has limited opponents to a .213 average and a .276 on-base percentage this season, while striking out 42 and walking 21 over 73 2-3 innings. He is 1-2 with a 4.50 ERA in six career starts against Kansas City.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Royals - Desi Relaford, .299 avg.; Sweeney, Raul Ibanez and Carlos Beltran, 8 HRs; Sweeney, 28 RBIs; Ibanez, 30 runs; Relaford and Beltran, 6 SBs. Athletics - Ramon Hernandez, .290 avg.; Eric Chavez and Miguel Tejada, 9 HRs; Erubiel Durazo, 34 RBIs and 29 runs; Chavez, 4 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Tied, 1-1.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Royals - OF Beltran is batting .467 with a double and three RBIs in 15 career at-bats against RHP Hudson. … INF Sweeney has reached base safely in 26 consecutive games. … 3B Randa has played 56 consecutive errorless games. Athletics - The A’s trio of RHP Hudson, LHP Mulder and LHP Zito are a combined 17-6 with a 2.55 ERA in 30 starts this season. … OF Eric Byrnes went 2-for-5 Saturday to stretch his hitting streak to 15 games. He is batting .418 (23-for-55) with six doubles, three triples, two homers and 15 RBIs during the run. … After going 17-10 April, the A’s are just 11-10 in May. Oakland has not had a winning record in both April and May since 1991.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Royals - 13-14 on the road; Athletics - 18-8 at home.