Barry Zito is starting to feel like the pitcher who dominated the American League during his first three seasons in the majors.
The left-hander will shoot for his fourth victory in five starts when the AL West-leading A’s conclude a three-game series with the visiting Kansas City Royals.
Zito, who went 47-17 during his first three big league seasons and earned the 2002 AL Cy Young Award, finished 14-12 with a 3.30 ERA last year, managing just three wins in his last nine decisions.
Zito has struggled with his consistency for most of this season, pitching to a career-high 4.79 ERA—nearly a run and a half higher than his career 3.39 mark. However, the veteran southpaw has come on of late, going 4-1 in six starts since July 16, including victories in three of his last four outings.
He limited Detroit to three runs and five hits over seven innings in Tuesday’s 5-4 victory, striking out five and walking just one for the second straight outing.
“My last three games have been pretty good,” Zito said. “The runs I’ve given up haven’t been indicative of how I’ve pitched. My stuff’s been good.”
Zito has never lost to Kansas City, going 3-0 with a 2.53 ERA in eight career starts.
The A’s continued their domination of the Royals with a 6-1 victory on Saturday, winning for the seventh time in eight meetings this season. The Royals took the series opener 10-3 on Friday, but were victimized by Oakland center fielder Mark Kotsay both in the field and at the plate Saturday.
Kotsay made a run-saving catch to preserve a tie in the top of the sixth inning and homered to put the A’s in front in the bottom half as Oakland ended a three-game skid.
John Buck’s RBI single in the third provided the lone run for Kansas City, which has lost seven of nine.