video thumbnail

MIN@OAK: Samardzija strikes out five over six frames

Thursday's finale of the four-game series between the first-place A's and Royals features a fantastic pitching matchup between Jeff Samardzija and James Shields.

With both Kansas City and Detroit winning on Wednesday, the Royals maintained their half-game lead in the American League Central.

On Thursday, Kansas City guns for its 10th win in 11 games and 18th triumph in its last 22 contests. If the Royals claim the finale, it would clinch their seventh straight series victory, a streak that began in their July 21-23 series against the White Sox.

"When you wake up this late in the season in first place, you wake up feeling better, you wake up with more energy, you wake up with more life, you come into the ballpark feeling better on where you're at," manager Ned Yost said. "You feel the energy of the fans, you feel the energy of the city, and they've worked hard to get to this point.

"And you're darn right I want them to feel good. They deserve it, they deserve to feel this."

Shields (11-6, 3.25 ERA) looks to keep the good feelings going in his encore to tossing a shutout in his last outing.

The veteran starter toyed with the Giants last Saturday, allowing just four hits and one walk in nine innings. The Royals won, 5-0, and Shields recorded five strikeouts.

"He had everything going, I mean everything," Yost said. "He had a good fastball, good cutter, good curveball, great changeup and he was commanding every pitch extremely well. He was nails."

Samardzija comes off his third win with the Athletics on Saturday, after he was acquired in a trade with the Cubs on July 5.

Oakland's offense supported him well in the 9-4 win, and Samardzija did his job, allowing just two runs in six innings.

Samardzija has never started a game vs. the Royals, but he threw one-third of an inning against Kansas City as a reliever when the Cubs visited Kauffman Stadium in 2011.

Royals: Colon starts, contributes
Eight games separated Christian Colon's last start, but the rookie showed no signs of rust as he played a part in Kansas City's 3-0 win on Wednesday night.

Colon, who gave third baseman Mike Moustakas a breather, finished 1-for-3 and scored the Royals' third run on Salvador Perez's sacrifice fly.

Colon also contributed defensively as well, starting a slick double play in the second inning, then robbing A's outfielder Coco Crisp of a hit in the sixth.

"He does a great job keeping himself prepared, so when his name's called, he's going to ready to do whatever we need him to do," Yost said.

Colon's previous start came on Aug. 3, also at third base and against Wednesday's A's starter Scott Kazmir. He finished 1-for-4 with a double that day.

Yost said he might give Colon a second straight start on Thursday at second base. However, that was before second baseman Omar Infante keyed the team's win on Wednesday with a 2-for-3 night, including a two-run home run.

Athletics: Lowrie plays despite injury
If Jedd Lowrie's fractured right index finger was bothering him on Wednesday, he showed so signs of it on the playing field.

Lowrie made his first start at shortstop since being diagnosed with the injury and collected one of Oakland's three hits against Royals starter Jason Vargas.

His defense didn't appear to suffer either, as Lowrie did not commit any errors.

"It might mean a day off a little more frequently, but he's able to play with it," manager Bob Melvin said. "There's nothing to suggest, unless he gets hit again, that it would worsen, but if there's a day something happens or it's bothering him more than others, then we'll have to give him a day off."

Worth noting
• Jason Vargas put himself in Royals history with his 3-0 shutout of the Athletics on Wednesday night. Vargas and James Shields are the first Kansas City pitchers to throw shutouts in the same week since Runelvys Hernandez and Mark Redman did in 2006.

Additionally, Vargas, Shields and Jeremy Guthrie each threw complete games in the last seven days. Darrell May and Paul Byrd were the last Royals to throw three complete games in that span during the 2002 season. Byrd accounted for two of the three that week.

• Just two weeks have passed since he suffered a broken right hand, and A's outfielder Craig Gentry has already made significant strides in his rehab.

Stationed in Oakland while his teammates finish off a seven-game road swing through Kansas City and Atlanta, Gentry, who is on the disabled list, is already hitting soft toss and batting off a tee. Comments