Following a rare defeat at Kauffman Stadium, the Oakland Athletics look to avoid losing their first series in Kansas City in nearly eight years when they conclude their three-game set against the Royals on Thursday.
After winning Tuesday’s series opener 6-1, the Athletics (16-16) lost 3-2 on Wednesday.
The Royals (11-23) are an AL-worst 7-13 at home this season, and have not owned any home-field advantage over Oakland lately. Despite Wednesday’s defeat, the A’s have still won 19 of their last 23 in Kansas City, and have not lost a series there since dropping two of three from July 23-25, 1999.
Joe Kennedy (0-2, 2.48 ERA) takes the mound on Thursday looking again for his first win of the season.
Kennedy, who made all 39 of his appearances in relief last year, has suffered some tough luck as a starter as his offense and bullpen have helped keep him out of the win column. Though he’s allowed one earned run in each of his five starts, Kennedy has only received eight runs of support while his bullpen has allowed 19 runs.
The left-hander gave up one run and three hits in a season-high seven innings on Saturday, but the bullpen allowed two runs in a 3-2, 12-inning loss to Tampa Bay.
“That’s baseball,” Kennedy said. “Wins come and wins go. You can’t sit there and reflect on the fact that you didn’t get a win. As long as you just keep going out and establishing a presence out there, the wins will come.”
Kennedy made two appearances last season against the Royals, allowing two hits in three shutout innings. He is 2-0 with a 4.29 ERA in eight games - three starts - in his career against Kansas City.
The Royals snapped a four-game losing skid on Wednesday behind Mike Sweeney’s tiebreaking solo homer in the eighth inning.
“Everyone knows that our team needed that lift,” said Sweeney, who has a seven-game hitting streak. “It was a thrill to be able to provide that lift to our team. The main thing is we won.”
Sweeney moved into second place on the Royals’ all-time list with his 194th homer. Only Hall of Famer George Brett has more (317).
Luke Hudson is slated to make his season debut for Kansas City.
Hudson, who went 6-3 with a 4.79 ERA in 15 starts last season, but suffered an inflamed right biceps tendon during the offseason.
“I have been anxious to get going since the first day I was shut down,” Hudson told the Royals’ official Web site. “I feel like I am ready.”
The right-hander allowed two runs in 6 2-3 innings in two starts during spring training, and is 0-2 with a 4.41 ERA in four minor league starts this year.
Hudson was victorious in his only career start against the A’s, giving up one run in five innings of a 7-1 victory on Aug. 18. He is 1-1 with a 5.63 ERA lifetime in three games against them.