Kansas City’s slumping offense seemed to come alive upon the Royals’ arrival in California.
That’s a trend James Shields would like to see continue when he takes the mound Friday night against the Oakland Athletics, as minimal run support has left him with an unimpressive record despite some outstanding outings.
The Royals (20-17) took two of three in Anaheim, capped by a 9-5 win Wednesday. It was their second big offensive performance in three days after matching a season high with 19 hits in Monday’s 11-4 victory.
Kansas City entered the series averaging 3.3 runs over a 1-6 stretch. Billy Butler went 3 for 28 in that span, then broke out versus Los Angeles, going 8 for 13 with nine RBIs.
“Keeping those losing streaks down is definitely key throughout a long baseball season,” said Lorenzo Cain who was 5 for 13 with five RBIs and two stolen bases in the series. “So if we just continue to pitch the way we’ve been pitching and hit like we know how to hit, we’ll be fine.”
Shields (2-3, 2.48 ERA) has given Kansas City a good chance to win each time out, though the offense hasn’t exactly returned the favor. He’s recorded one victory over his last six starts despite a 2.15 ERA in that span, receiving three runs of support or fewer five times.
The right-hander suffered a similar fate Saturday as he limited the Yankees to two earned runs and six hits over eight innings in a 3-2 defeat.
“He’ll be the exact same James Shields next time he steps on the mound,” manager Ned Yost said. “He doesn’t buy into frustration. He doesn’t panic. He’s a steady, steady guy. He’s a pro’s pro.”
Shields was certainly steady the last time he took the hill in Oakland. He allowed three singles without a walk and struck out 11 while going the distance in an 8-0 win for Tampa Bay on July 31.
The Athletics (20-22) are certainly struggling coming into this meeting, having dropped eight of 10 after Wednesday’s 6-2 loss to Texas. Oakland is 11-20 since starting an AL-best 9-2.
“We’re not playing well right now and we have to power through this, win some games and get on a roll,” manager Bob Melvin said.
Oakland’s rotation continues to scuffle, posting a 6.69 ERA over the last seven games. It’s uncharacteristic for a staff mostly intact from last year, when the team’s starters ranked ninth with a 3.80 ERA.
Jarrod Parker (2-5, 6.86), one of the many Athletics pitchers failing to match his 2012 numbers, gets the nod Friday. He recorded a 2.88 ERA through his first seven starts as a rookie last season and finished with a 3.47 ERA.
Parker’s latest outing was encouraging, however. He yielded three runs and three hits - walking four - while matching a season-high with 6 1-3 innings in a 4-3 win at Seattle on Saturday.
“One good start’s one thing, but we’d like to see him get on a roll,” Melvin said.
Coco Crisp was hitless in three at-bats Wednesday as he returned from a strained left hamstring that sidelined him since April 29. He’s 3 for 17 with four strikeouts against Shields.
Parker gave up five runs and four hits over 4 2-3 innings in a 5-0 road loss to the Royals last season.