Talk about perfect timing -- maybe.
The Royals open a three-game series against the free-falling A’s, who have lost a season-high eight in a row and have scored a grand total of 12 runs in the process while batting .172. The A’s have been shut out nine times, a major-league high, and are tied for last place in the AL West.
The San Francisco Chronicle noted that the skid looks awfully familiar.
The A's were two games over .500 and tied for first place on May 17, 2011, and then, after a spate of injuries, dropped six of seven to fall into last place. Nine games into a 10-game skid that began May 30, manager Bob Geren was replaced by Bob Melvin.
"Kind of ironic, kind of weird," A's catcher Kurt Suzuki told the newspaper. "But I don't think this is anything close. Things just haven't been going our way."
But help is on the way.
Outfielder Yoenis Céspedes, who was on the disabled list with a strained muscle in his left hand, is expected to be activated today. Céspedes batted .245 with four homers and 21 RBIs in 28 games. His numbers suffered a bit as he tried battling through the injury.
Could Manny Ramirez make his return to the majors at Kauffman Stadium? He’s been at Class AAA Sacramento, but was eligible to join the A’s on Wednesday, which was his 40th birthday and the day his 50-game suspension was over.
Ramirez was last seen in a Rays uniform in April 2011 when he tested positive for a banned substance for the second time in his career. Facing a 100-game suspension at the time, he instead retired. But Ramirez decided to return and his suspension was cut to 50 games.
At least one player would like to see Manny.
“His veteran presence in the lineup is going to make us a little more intimidating, and he’ll come in here and go about the game the right way,” Oakland outfielder Coco Crisp, a former Royal, told the Chronicle. “That’s the way he’s done it from Day 1. He’s one of the hardest workers I’ve ever played with. A lot of guys here who haven’t seen that, it’ll be, like, ‘Wow, this is how it’s supposed to be done.’
“I’m excited to have his quirkiness here, too.”
So Céspedes is coming back and Ramirez might, but what about the A’s pitching?
Starter Brandon McCarthy is expected to come off the disabled list (shoulder issues) and get the ball on Saturday. McCarthy, who is 3-3 with a 2.95 ERA, gave up two runs on six hits to the Royals in a game on May 11.
You may recall how that one ended. Closer Jonathan Broxton hit two batters in a row in the 12th inning and the A’s rallied for a 5-4 victory. That was the start of the ugly 12-game losing streak.
Tonight, Bartolo Colon, 3-5 with a 4.98 ERA, will start. He’s had a rough time of things in his last four starts, giving up on 19 earned runs on 36 hits in 20 innings.
| Pete Grathoff, firstname.lastname@example.org