The Oakland Athletics (67-42) send All-Star left-hander Scott Kazmir (56-53) to the mound to face the Kansas City Royals this afternoon. Kazmir is 12-3 with a 2.37 ERA, and sports a decent chance of moving into the lead in ESPN's Cy Young Predictor, where his 125.5 Cy Young Points stand fourth behind Felix Hernandez, Max Scherzer, and Sonny Gray. He trails the leader by 4.2 points, and a win is valued at 6.0 points.
Kazmir is opposed by James Shields, who sports a 9-6 record and 3.50 ERA. Today may be a rare occasion where the absence of Coco Crisp from the lineup might be a good thing. Crisp is a mere 3-for-21 with no walks, no extra-base hits, and five strikeouts against Shields. Losing Nick Punto to injury yesterday, however, may hurt a bit more. Punto was 4-for-14 with four walks against Shields, sporting a .444 on base percentage as a result.
|KANSAS CITY ROYALS||OAKLAND A'S|
|Norichika Aoki - DH||Sam Fuld - CF|
|Omar Infante - 2B||John Jaso - DH|
|Salvador Perez - C||Josh Donaldson - 3B|
|Billy Butler - 1B||Brandon Moss - LF|
|Alex Gordon - LF||Stephen Vogt - 1B|
|Lorenzo Cain - RF||Derek Norris - C|
|Christian Colon - 3B||Josh Reddick - RF|
|Jarrod Dyson - CF||Jed Lowrie - SS|
|Alcides Escobar - SS||Alberto Callaspo - 2B|
Right-handed batters Nate Freiman and Jonny Gomes are available off the bench with left-handed Eric Sogard. Coco Crisp remains unavailable, though the Sacramento Bee's Matt Kawahara notes that Crisp "is scheduled to hit in the cage today after several days without any baseball activities. If all goes well, the A's could have Crisp back on the field soon."
In today's lineup, Royals facing Scott Kazmir for the first time are Nori Aoki, Christian Colon, and Jarrod Dyson. Otherwise, Alex Gordon is the only Royal in the lineup with an on base percentage of less than .300 (.269). Gordon has struck out eight times against Kazmir in 26 plate appearances.
First pitch is at 1:05!