The Oakland Athletics could still make a late-season push for the playoffs. They’ll have to get back to .500 before they can entertain any thoughts of that.
The Athletics look to match a season high with their fifth straight victory Friday night when they open a three-game home series against the Kansas City Royals.
The home run was the second in as many days for Suzuki, who has raised his batting average 38 points to .255 over the past two weeks.
“The last couple of weeks I’m more comfortable at the plate,” Suzuki said. “I’m more consistent with my swings. (Hitting coach Ty Van Burkleo) has been out there working his butt off with me.”
Mike Piazza had three hits—falling a double short of the cycle—as Oakland (60-62) earned its first sweep since taking three from San Francisco from June 8-10.
The A’s are within two games of .500 for the first time since they were 44-46 after play on July 13.
Oakland, which is eight games behind wild card-leading Seattle, has won 11 of 16, averaging 5.9 runs during that span.
“I thought we’ve been playing great, it’s nice to see,” manager Bob Geren said.
Dan Meyer looks to keep the A’s rolling as he makes his first major league start and his first appearance in the majors in nearly three years. A former first-round pick of Atlanta, Meyer made two relief appearances with the Braves in 2004. The 26-year-old left-hander was part of the trade that sent former A’s ace Tim Hudson to the Braves.
“My name’s probably going to be attached to that for a long time,” Meyer told the A’s’ official Web site. “To me, it’s not that big of a deal.”
Meyer has battled various shoulder injuries the past two seasons, and underwent surgery in July to remove a bone chip in shoulder. He was 6-2 with a 3.40 ERA at Triple-A Sacramento, striking out 93 in 103 1/3 innings.
Meyer will be the 49th player the A’s have used this season, matching a team record set in 1997.
The Royals scored four eighth-inning runs Thursday at Texas and avoided a three-game sweep with a 6-2 victory.
Buck had been in a 2-for-16 slump before the double.
“We made some adjustments because teams are just junk-balling me to death,” Buck said.
The Royals have won seven of their last nine visits to Oakland.
Brian Bannister (8-7, 3.41) hopes to rebound from a rare poor start. The right-hander lost for the first time since July 16, snapping a personal three-game win streak in a 4-1 defeat to Toronto on Saturday. He allowed three runs on seven hits in 4 2-3 innings, his shortest outing since May 4.
Bannister, who had been 3-0 with a 1.61 ERA in his previous four starts, failed to pitch at least six innings for the first time since June 23.
He did not receive a decision in his first career start against the A’s on May 15 after giving up two runs and five hits in six innings.