For the second straight year, the Oakland Athletics enter the final month of the season with virtually no shot at making the playoffs.
The Kansas City Royals can certainly relate, as that situation is nothing new for them.
These two teams with no playoff aspirations open a three-game series Tuesday at Kansas City.
Oakland (63-74) made five postseason appearances and finished first or second in the AL West every year from 1999-2006, but has struggled since.
The A’s finished in third place, 18 games out of first last season, and are 20 1/2 back of the division-leading Los Angeles Angels this year.
The Royals (57-79), meanwhile, have not made the playoffs since 1985, and are in danger of finishing in last place in the AL Central for the fifth straight season.
Kansas City lost for the 12th time in 14 games on Sunday, 4-2 to Detroit, to finish August a league-worst 7-20.
“August was a very tough month for us,” first-year manager Trey Hillman said. “I’m hoping we can do some things in September and carry them on toward next season.”
Zack Greinke (9-9, 3.72 ERA) looks to put a disappointing August behind him when he takes the hill in the series opener.
After defeating the Chicago White Sox on Aug. 3, the Royals have lost Greinke’s last four starts. Greinke, 0-2 in those outings, has not been getting much help, though, as he’s been backed by seven total runs of support, and his defense has been committing costly errors.
In 17 2-3 innings over his last three starts, Greinke has yielded eight runs, but only one earned. The right-hander allowed an unearned run and four hits with five strikeouts in six innings last Tuesday, but did not factor in the decision of a 2-1 loss to Texas.
Greinke is 1-0 with a 2.92 ERA in two starts versus the A’s this season.
Oakland is coming off a 12-4 loss to Minnesota on Sunday, as its anemic offense went 2-for-14 with runners in scoring position.
The A’s have gone 37 consecutive games without scoring more than six runs, the longest streak by an AL team since 1988 when Milwaukee had a string of 40 straight. Oakland has scored the fewest runs in the AL (531), while the Royals have plated the second-fewest (557).
Mike Sweeney, who played for the Royals from 1995-2007, is expected to make his first trip to Kansas City since signing with the A’s prior to this season. The five-time All-Star has been on the disabled list since May 28 after undergoing left knee surgery, and had been on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Sacramento since Aug. 18.
Rookie Gio Gonzalez (1-2, 7.25) makes his sixth career start when he takes the ball Tuesday.
Gonzalez allowed four runs, three hits and five walks in three innings of Oakland’s 6-5 win over the Angels on Wednesday. The 22-year-old left-hander has struggled with his control lately, issuing 17 walks in 16 1-3 innings over his past four starts.
This will be his first career start versus the Royals.