Looking to become the majors’ first 16-game winner, Mulder will try to lead the A’s to their 11th straight victory over the Royals as the teams open a three-game series at Network Associates Coliseum.
The A’s have won all six meetings with Kansas City this season and the last 10 overall. They are 35-10 in the series since Mulder joined the team in 2000 after going just 27-20 in four seasons prior.
Mulder is 8-0 with a 1.72 ERA in nine career starts against the Royals. In two starts against them this season, he is 2-0 with an 0.50 ERA, his lowest ERA versus any opponent this year.
Besides breaking a tie with San Francisco’s Jason Schmidt (15) for the major league lead in victories this season, Mulder can also surpass his win total from all of last season, when a stress fracture in his right leg ended his campaign in August.
The 27-year-old left-hander has won 13 of 14 decisions though he didn’t receive the decision in Oakland’s 6-5, 18-inning victory on Sunday. He went eight innings, giving up three runs, six hits, four walks and four strikeouts.
After taking three of four from the Twins, the Athletics went on to drop two of three to visiting Detroit, capped by Thursday’s 5-3 loss. Oakland’s lead in the AL West is down to 1 1/2 games over Anaheim.
Mark Kotsay, who hit a leadoff homer and had three hits Thursday, said the A’s are still reeling from playing 27 innings in 27 hours, including Sunday’s game that tied the Texas-Seattle game on June 24 for the longest in the majors this season.
Oakland didn’t have an off day and is in a stretch in which it plays 10 of 12 day games.
“These are the dog days,” Kotsay said. “We really didn’t catch our breath after that last road trip. This many day games can really wear on you.”
Sweeney is batting .391 (9-for-23) with two homers, four doubles and eight RBIs in six games since a three-game absence because of back spasms.