The Kansas City Royals won’t make the playoffs, and even a .500 season is very unlikely. Still, there’s little doubt they are making progress.
The Royals seek their fourth straight victory overall and their second road sweep of the season Sunday afternoon as they close a three-game series against the Oakland Athletics.
Smith, claimed off waivers from Arizona on July 13, has hit 14 of his 15 career homers in road games. He has four home runs in 88 at-bats since joining the Royals.
“I just picked a day when the wind was blowing out. Honestly I can’t explain it,” Smith said. “I was just fortunate enough to put two good swings on it.”
The win was the sixth for the Royals (55-67) in nine meetings with the Athletics, giving them the season series for the first time since going 7-4 in 1998. Kansas City improved to 9-2 in its last 11 visits to Oakland with their 55th win, a total the Royals didn’t reach last season until Sept. 12.
The Royals moved into sole possession of fourth place in the AL Central, one game ahead of the Chicago White Sox, who have lost seven in a row. Kansas City had been in last place since the second week of the season.
A victory Sunday would give the Royals four straight road wins, matching a season high set from June 24-27.
Kansas City’s Mark Teahen left Saturday’s game after hyperextending his elbow diving for a ball and is expected to sit out the series finale.
The Athletics (60-64) have lost two straight following a four-game win streak.
Oakland had five players in Saturday’s starting lineup who weren’t on the opening day roster, including three who weren’t even in the A’s organization in April.
Kyle Davies (1-1, 5.52 ERA) hopes for better results and better conditions as he takes the mound for the Royals. The right-hander struggled in his third start since joining Kansas City, allowing four runs and eight hits in five-plus innings Tuesday in a 5-3 loss at Texas. He walked one and struck out seven while pitching in 99-degree heat, the highest temperature for the first pitch of a Rangers’ home game this season.
“It’s frustrating,” Davies said. “I elevated some pitches and they hit them. I thought I pitched pretty good until the sixth. Then things snowballed. The good thing is I’m making progress.”
Davies is 5-9 with a 5.72 ERA in 23 starts this season with Atlanta and Kansas City. He did not receive a decision in his only start against the Athletics on June 10, 2005.
Lenny DiNardo (7-6, 3.29) looks to win his fifth straight decision for Oakland. The left-hander had another effective outing Tuesday in a 4-3 victory over the White Sox, giving up two runs and six hits in five-plus innings. He is 4-0 with a 4.28 ERA in his last six starts, allowing three runs or fewer in all but one of those appearances.
DiNardo has surrendered one run over three innings in three relief appearances this season against the Royals.