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Slumping A’s look to avoid getting swept by Royals

Jun 8, 2022; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Jared Koenig (46) throws in his MLB debut against the Atlanta Braves in the third inning at Truist Park. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Jared Koenig hopes his first start at home turns out better than his first two on the road when he leads the Oakland Athletics against the Kansas City Royals in the finale of a three-game series Sunday afternoon.

The Royals are expected to counter with right-hander Brady Singer (3-1, 4.24) as they seek a fourth straight win in the San Francisco Bay Area, having beaten the Giants 3-2 in their series finale on Wednesday.

The left-handed Koenig (0-2, 11.25) went four innings in each of his first two starts, allowing four runs in a 13-2 loss to the Atlanta Braves and all six runs in a 6-1 loss to the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday.

A former standout at Aptos High and Cal State Monterey Bay along the California coast, Koenig has experience pitching in the Bay Area. He spent two seasons with the semi-pro San Rafael Pacifics in the North Bay before moving on to Lake Erie of the Frontier League and one year in Australia.

Kansas City has used dominant pitching to win the first two games Friday and Saturday, getting sparkling performances by Daniel Lynch and Brad Keller, two starters who had been a combined 3-14 entering the series.

“Offensively, we haven’t been able to put innings together and put at-bats together the last four or five games,” lamented A’s manager Mark Kotsay after his team was two-hit by Keller and two relievers Saturday. “Our pitching has been really, really good at the other end of the spectrum.

“We gotta score. We gotta score runs to win games. And, unfortunately, the offense hasn’t gotten into a rhythm.”

That’s especially been a problem at home, where the A’s have lost eight in a row. They’ve totaled 11 runs in those games.

And Sunday, Oakland will have to deal with Singer, the Royals’ top starter.

The 25-year-old has pitched well his last two times out. He beat the Toronto Blue Jays 8-4 with five innings of three-run ball, then received a no-decision Monday against the Giants despite allowing just two hits and two runs in five innings.

He’s faced the A’s just once previously, getting a no-decision in a 4-3 loss at Oakland last June. He allowed three runs in six innings that day, with two of the runs coming on a home run by Seth Brown.

Salvador Perez has caught all five games of the two-venue tour of the Bay Area this week. And even though he hasn’t had a day off since May 27, the 32-year-old gives no indication he won’t be there for Singer on Sunday.

“I like San Francisco and here,” he said of Oakland. “The weather. I feel fresh. There’s an opportunity to be behind home plate (more). It’s not that hot. I feel more fresh. I like to play here.”

Perez has hits in three of his five starts this week, including his 10th home run of the season in Friday’s 5-1 win.

–Field Level Media