The Athletics, playing well despite mounting injuries, look to continue their success in Kansas City when they face De La Rosa and the Royals on Tuesday night in the opener of a three-game series.
Oakland (15-15), which has seven players on the disabled list, is 3-2 on its eight-game road trip.
The A’s now head to Kansas City, where they have won 27 of their last 33 games. The Royals (10-22) have the worst home record in the majors during that span, going 261-322 at Kauffman Stadium.
Kansas City is an AL-worst 6-12 at home this season. Three of the wins, however, were earned by De La Rosa (3-2, 3.38 ERA), who has been baseball’s best pitcher at home in 2007, going 3-0 with a major league-best 0.82 ERA while holding opponents to a .182 batting average.
The left-hander earned a win at Kauffman in his last start, giving up one run and five hits in seven innings to beat the Los Angeles Angels 3-1 on Wednesday night. De La Rosa did not factor in the decision in his only career appearance against the Athletics, allowing one run and two hits in five innings as the Royals won 5-3 on Aug. 18.
He will be facing a banged-up Oakland lineup. The A’s have been without Mike Piazza (shoulder) and Mark Kotsay (back), and Shannon Stewart (ankle) and Travis Buck (wrist) were both out of the starting lineup in a 5-3 win over Tampa Bay on Sunday.
Nick Swisher has given the A’s a much-needed lift. He hit a tiebreaking solo homer Sunday, and a go-ahead, three-run shot in a 5-2 victory over the Devil Rays on Friday night.
Swisher’s three starts against Tampa Bay were his first since straining a left hamstring on April 24.
“It really just shows you how good of a player he is, to sit out that long and come back hot,” Oakland manager Bob Geren said. “He’s an incredible talent.”
The A’s, whose pitchers had a 2.12 ERA during the Devil Rays series, will now send Chad Gaudin (1-1, 2.70) to the mound. The right-hander gave up three runs—two earned—and eight hits in five-plus innings, but did not factor in the decision in a 6-4 loss to Boston on Wednesday night.
This will be Gaudin’s first start against Kansas City. He is 1-1 with a 2.76 ERA in eight relief appearances against the Royals.
Kansas City was swept in a three-game series with Detroit over the weekend, losing the finale 13-4 on Sunday. The Royals were coming off a split of a four-game set with the Angels.
“This was a disappointing series,” Kansas City manager Buddy Bell told the team’s Web site. “We understand that this is probably the best team in the American League. But after we won two against Los Angeles, a very good team as well, we expected to play better in this series. We did not.”
Oakland went 5-4 against Kansas City last season.