While it's extremely early, the Kansas City Royals still can enjoy owning the best rotation in baseball.
Bruce Chen will try to keep it that way with another strong performance, if the weather cooperates.
A day after the Royals got some help from Mother Nature, Chen looks to give the club another dominant effort on the mound Wednesday in the finale of this three-game series against the host Oakland Athletics.
Kansas City (3-2) has gotten a 1.55 ERA from its starters, the lowest in the majors so far. It barely needed a bullpen in Tuesday's 3-0 victory over Oakland, which was halted in the top of the eighth due to rain.
Royals starter Danny Duffy yielded one hit while striking out eight in six innings.
Chen may not get a chance to follow suit in the series finale, with rain in the forecast again.
The veteran left-hander is looking to build on an impressive season debut by continuing his success on the road. He allowed three hits in six scoreless innings Friday before relievers Aaron Crow and Greg Holland wasted the effort by surrendering all of the scoring in the eighth during a 5-0 defeat to the Los Angeles Angels.
"We have one of the best bullpens in the league, and we want to use it," Chen said. "The next time I'm pitching, I want those two guys again."
Chen is 4-1 with a 1.86 ERA in his last seven road starts dating to last season. The one blemish in that stretch, however, came at Oakland on Sept. 7, when he was tagged for six runs - five earned - and eight hits with three walks in 5 1-3 innings of a 7-0 defeat. That was his first start at O.co Coliseum in more than six years.
Jeff Francoeur has been giving the Royals some pop at the plate, improving to 6 for 16 with a 2-for-3 performance Tuesday. The right fielder has managed at least one hit in every game this season except Monday's 1-0 loss to the A's, and he's hitting .304 with 11 RBIs in 12 career games at Oakland.
The A's (2-4) are scheduled to give the ball to Brandon McCarthy (0-1, 2.25 ERA), who is looking for more help from his teammates.
The right-hander has been backed by three total runs in his two starts. An error by Josh Donaldson also hurt him Friday, contributing to three unearned runs in a 7-3 loss to Seattle.
McCarthy lasted five innings in that game, giving up five runs and seven hits, but was much better on opening day in Tokyo on March 28, when he yielded one run in seven innings against the Mariners.
"It was bad, about as bad as it's been in a long time," McCarthy told the A's official website Friday. "Just very little feel, kind of the complete opposite of how I felt in Tokyo."
McCarthy was charged with a 4-3 loss at Kansas City on May 7 in his only start against the Royals last season. He pitched a complete game, with the Royals scoring the winning run on a sacrifice fly with one out in the ninth.
- Kansas City Royals
- Oakland Athletics
- Bruce Chen