The Oakland Athletics visit Kansas City Royals in one-game MLB Playoffs AL wildcard showdown Sept 30th
By Ian Palmer
The Oakland Athletics and Kansas City Royals will be slugging it out at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas on Tuesday, September 30 in the American League wildcard playoff game. This is a one-game winner-take-all showdown with the victor moving on to the AL Divisional Series against the Los Angeles Angels. This will be the first playoff appearance in 29 years for the Royals who haven’t made it this far since back in 1985. They went all the way that year and took home the franchise’s one and only World Series title. Both teams will send their aces to the mound with 32-year-old right-hander James Shields pitching for Kansas and 30-year-old lefty Jon Lester hurling for Oakland.
bet365 MLB Playoffs betting line:
- Money Line: Oakland 1/1, Kansas City 10/11
- O/U: 6.5 runs – over 20/21, under 20/23
- Run Line: +1.5 at 20/23 and -1.5 at 19/10
Shields finished the season with a 14-8 record along with an earned-run average of 3.21 while Lester went 16-11 with an ERA of 2.46. Both Shields and Lester are in their primes and also have playoff experience. Shields was acquired by Kansas from Tampa Bay a couple of years ago and he had an ERA of 2.31 in five starts during September. This was his second-best average of the season behind his 1.60 for April. He pitched 227 innings in the 2014 season for his eighth consecutive 200-inning campaign. Shields has pitched in a total of six playoff games in the past, but has struggled by going 2-4 with a 4.98 ERA.
Lester was acquired by Oakland earlier this season in a big deal with the Boston Red Sox which saw outfielder Yoenis Cespedes head to Beantown. But while the A’s got the pitcher they coveted their offense went south after Cespedes left. Lester started 11 games for the Athletics and posted a 2.35 ERA and a 6-4 record. In playoff games, Lester owns an impressive 6-4 record along with an ERA of 2.11 in a pair f relief appearances and six starts. He started two games in last year’s World Series and allowed just one earned run against in 15 and 1/3 innings of work.
With Oakland’s offense struggling after the Cespedes-for-Lester trade, the team didn’t clinch their wildcard playoff spot until beating the Texas Rangers on the road on the last day of the season. A loss in Texas would have meant a one-game do-or-die situation against the Seattle Mariners. The Athletics and Royals met seven times this season with Kansas taking the series five games to two. All seven of the contests came during the first 14 days of August.
One of Oakland’s key players against Kansas will be third baseman Josh Donaldson. He had to battle several lower-body injuries this season, but still belted out a career and team-best 29 home runs and 98 RBIs. He also played some solid defense at the hot corner. Manager Bob Melvin feels Donaldson should get some recognition for the league’s MVP award when the voting takes place. For the Royals, relief pitcher Wade Davis could be an important figure. The former starter had an excellent season as the Royals top setup man for closer Greg Holland. Davis set a team record with 109 strikeouts for a reliever which saw him whiff an average of 13.6 batters every nine innings this year.
On a side note, the Athletics played from 1955 to 1967 in Kansas City before the franchise moved west to Oakland in 1968. The Royals franchise was then born a year later. The Royals beat St. Louis 11-0 in the last playoff game played in Kansas and it came in the seventh and deciding game of the World Series. Since 1985 the Athletics have made the postseason 11 times. They won the 1989 World Series and in 2006 made it to the AL Championship Series.