|A's Bailey set for first game against Royals|
When Oakland's Homer Bailey steps to the mound at Kauffman Stadium in the bottom of the first Monday to face the Kansas City Royals, he will be able to cross off one more team on an impressive list.
The Royals will be the 29th MLB team that Bailey has faced in his 13-year career, leaving only the Cincinnati Reds, where Bailey spent the first 12 years of his career, on the list of teams he has yet to face.
Bailey (11-8, 5.06 ERA) was part of the Royals' rotation for the first part of 2019, signing as a free agent in February. He was 7-6 with a 4.80 ERA in 18 starts for the Royals before being traded to the A's for minor league infielder Kevin Merrell. Since the trade, he's 4-2 with a 5.68 ERA in seven starts.
In 21 interleague starts with the Reds, Bailey never faced the Royals.
In his last outing Tuesday, in the first game of the A's three-game sweep over the New York Yankees, Bailey got the count to 0-2 against 18 of the 24 batters he faced. He allowed only one run -- a solo home run to Gary Sanchez -- on seven hits over 5 2/3 innings.
"I feel like this is a club that believes they can play with anybody," Bailey said following that game. "And we're showing it."
Bailey went from a team vying for the top pick in next year's draft to a club that's in the thick of the playoff race. The A's are a half-game out of the second AL wild-card spot following Sunday's 5-4 loss to the Giants.
Monday's game is the first of a four-game series, the first time the A's and Royals will face each other in 2019. They'll have another series in Oakland Sept. 16-18.
The Royals come into the series after a wild 9-8 victory on Sunday in Cleveland. They led 8-3 going to the bottom of the eighth, gave up a run in the eighth and four in the ninth, then won it in the 10th on Ryan O'Hearn's second home run of the day. That snapped a strange four-game losing streak that included a fifth somber clubhouse after an abbreviated losing result on Thursday.
The loss in the middle of the just-completed road trip, a 5-4 setback in Boston, was a continuation of a game suspended by rain in the 10th inning on Aug. 7. The loss was considered a part of the Aug. 2-11 road trip.
Brad Keller (8-13, 3.95) will get the start for the Royals on Monday. He's tied for second in the American League with Baltimore's Dylan Bundy in losses, one behind Aaron Sanchez of the Astros, but he has pitched well. Keller has lost his last four decisions, and the Royals have lost his last five starts, but he has a 3.94 ERA over that span (14 earned runs in 32 innings).
Manager Ned Yost said the Royals will be limiting Keller's pitches and innings through the remainder of the season, adding he will not exceed 100 pitches again this year. Keller is at 164 innings already this season. His previous professional high had been 142 innings in the minors in 2015.
Keller is fine with that approach.
"Obviously going into the season, the goal was 200 innings," he said. "That's potentially still a goal, but I don't know if they'll let me. Health is a big thing. You want to get through the season healthy."
Keller will be making his second start against the A's in his career. He pitched 5 1/3 innings, allowing two runs on five hits in a no-decision in June of 2018.
--Field Level Media