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Jun 17, 2024 4:01 pm

Royals looking to extend Athletics’ nine-game skid

bobby witt royals

The reeling Oakland Athletics return home to face a team they enjoyed some success against last season — but not so far this year — when the Kansas City Royals visit for a three-game series that kicks off Tuesday night.

The A’s flew back from Minnesota on Sunday night after having completed a winless seven-game trip. Counting consecutive losses to the Toronto Blue Jays to end its last homestand, Oakland has dropped nine in a row.

In completing their season series, the A’s will get a rematch with the Royals, who picked up 6-2, 5-3 and 8-4 wins when the clubs met in Kansas City last month. That began an eight-game winning streak that has placed the Royals solidly in the playoff picture in the American League.

Interestingly, the A’s were skidding both times they saw the Royals last year but managed to turn things around on each occasion. They took two of three in Kansas City in May 2023 after having lost eight of nine going in, then repeated the two-of-three success at home in August in the wake of another 1-8 run.

Neither of Monday’s projected starting pitchers — left-hander Hogan Harris (0-0, 2.49 ERA) of the A’s and righty Alec Marsh (5-3, 3.63) of the Royals — saw action in the three games at Kansas City last month, but they pitched one day apart in the August meeting in Oakland last year, with the A’s winning both times.

Harris lasted just 3 2/3 innings, allowing four runs, but got the win nonetheless in a bulk-innings-reliever role in a 5-4 win in his first-ever meeting with the Royals.

The 27-year-old has pitched well in both his June starts this season, holding the Toronto Blue Jays and San Diego Padres to a total of two runs in 11 innings.

This time around, Harris will see a team that used Monday’s day off to catch its breath after a rugged stretch in which the Royals played 12 straight games against the Cleveland Guardians, Seattle Mariners, New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers. The Royals won five of those games.

“We showed we can compete,” first baseman Vinnie Pasquantino insisted. “We played Seattle really tough. Cleveland we played tough. … It shows this team has fight. We’re never out of a game.”

Star shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. surely demonstrated he belonged on the big stage with the heavyweights, hitting .392 in that stretch with two homers and nine RBIs.

Marsh also will be making his second career start against Monday’s opponent. He struck out nine over 5 2/3 innings but allowed three runs in a 6-4 loss in Oakland last year. Zack Gelof and Shea Langeliers homered off him in that one.

The 26-year-old is coming off the best start of his career, blanking the Yankees on one hit over seven innings in a 4-3 win last Thursday.

Marsh will have to deal with a couple of hot bats when he faces JJ Bleday and Tyler Soderstrom for the first time. Each homered in the nightcap of a doubleheader on Sunday against the Twins.

For Soderstrom, it was his fourth home run in the last seven games, allowing him to join Mickey Cochrane, Jimmie Foxx, Reggie Jackson and Jose Canseco as the only players in A’s history with such a powerful seven-game run at age 22 or younger.

“It’s good to see some of the young bats, especially Tyler and JJ, contributing,” Oakland manager Mark Kotsay observed. “Both these young left-handed hitters are having an impact.”

–Field Level Media

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