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Royals Host A’s In AL Wild Card

Can James Shields guide the Royals to a Wild Card victory over the A's?

Can James Shields guide the Royals to a Wild Card victory over the A’s?

The 2014 Major League Baseball postseason gets underway Tuesday as the Kansas City Royals host the Oakland Athletics in the American League Wild Card Game.

First pitch at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., is scheduled for 8:07 p.m. ET.

Making its first postseason appearance in nearly three decades, Kansas City (89-73, 42-39 home) will hope to take advantage of playing at home and advance to the American League Divisional Series.

The last time the Royals faced elimination from the postseason the club went home with the Commissioner’s Trophy. Now, 29 years after Game 7 of the 1985 World Series, the Royals will look to stave off elimination in the play-in Wild Card game.

Meanwhile, Oakland (88-74, 40-41 road) will look to wash away a subpar second half of the season with a win over the Royals, before moving on to meet division rivals the Los Angeles Angels in the ALDS.

The Athletics have appeared in two straight Division Series, but has yet to advance to the Championship Series. Manager Bob Melvin will be hoping his team does enough to get a third crack at the ALCS and perhaps more.

The Royals earned a 5-2 advantage over the Athletics in the regular season head-to-head series, including a 3-1 record in games played at Kauffman Stadium. All of those games came in August, during the Athletics’ slump. Royals manager Ned Yost won’t care about those five regular season vicotries – he’ll simply be looking for one win when it matters.

Pitching matchup

While the postseason is traditionally a period of roster tinkering and wholesale adjustments, the advent of the play-in Wild Card games means that it’s do or die immediately for both teams.

In a do or die situation you want to be sending your best and most experienced pitchers to the mound. For the Royals and A’s, that’s exactly how things have panned out going into Tuesday’s must-win game.

Kansas City will send James Shields (14-8, 3.21 ERA) to the mound for the Wild Card game.

Unlike many of his teammates, Shields has postseason experience from his time with the Tampa Bay Rays, including having pitched in the World Series. With a solid record against the A’s, the Royals couldn’t ask for a better starter than ‘Big Game’ James.

  • Shields is 6-4 with a 3.82 ERA in 15 career games (15 starts) vs. Oakland
  • Shields is 1-0 with a 3.21 ERA in 2 games (2 starts) vs. Oakland this season
  • Shields is 9-13 with a 4.20 ERA in 35 career games (35 starts) at Kauffman Stadium
  • Shields is 4-6 with a 3.51 ERA in 15 games (15 starts) at Kauffman this season
  • Shields is 2-4 with a 4.98 ERA in 6 career games (6 starts) in the postseason

Oakland will counter with Jon Lester (16-11, 2.46 ERA).

Lester was acquired at the deadline to pitch in crucial situations. It doesn’t get much more crucial than Tuesday’s Wild Card game. Like Shields, Lester has postseason experience, including appearances in the 2007 and 2013 World Series with the Boston Red Sox. He’s also been solid against the Royals this season, which stands the A’s in good shape.

  • Lester is 9-3 with a 1.84 ERA in 13 career games (13 starts) vs. Kansas City
  • Lester is 3-0 with a 2.61 ERA in 3 games (3 starts) vs. Kansas City this season
  • Lester is 2-3 with a 3.10 ERA in 5 career games (5 starts) at Kauffman Stadium
  • Lester is 1-0 with a 4.50 ERA in 1 games(1 start) at Kauffman Stadium this season
  • Lester is 6-4 with a 2.11 ERA in 13 career games (13 starts) in the postseason
Jon Lester is 3-0 against the Kansas City Royals this season, including one win with the A's.

Jon Lester is 3-0 against the Kansas City Royals this season, including 1-0 with the A’s.

Injury report

Oakland will be without outfielder Craig Gentry, who is out indefinitely with a head injury. Meanwhile, catcher John Jaso is on the 7-day concussion list.

Kansas City will be without second baseman Christian Colon, on the 15-day DL with a finger injury.

Betting report

Below you’ll find significant trends and observations relating to this matchup.

Oakland Athletics vs. Kansas City Royals odds for 09/30/2014

Kansas City (-123) opened as the favorite over Oakland (+113) on the moneyline, but right now – and in no small part due to what should be a fantastic pitching matchup – this game is a pick’em. Depending which sportsbook you visit, both the Royals and A’s are favored, albeit by the slightest of margins.

Oakland us just 7-16 in its last 23 road games, and just 1-3 at Kauffman Stadium this season.

In the 1981 ALDS, Oakland swept Kansas City 3-0 to advance. The series marks the only time the two clubs have previously met in the postseason.

Some other trends to consider:

  • Oakland is 56-48 in night games
  • Kansas City is 63-48 in night games
  • Oakland is 17-17  vs. AL Central opponents
  • Kansas City is 18-14 vs. AL West opponents
  • Oakland is 64-49 vs. right-handed pitching
  • Kansas City is 24-21 vs. left-handed pitching
  • Oakland is 29-38 since the All-Star break
  • Kansas City is 43-27 since the All-Star break
  • Oakland is 10-16 since September 1
  • Kansas City is 15-11 since September 1

The total opened at 6.5 where it remains.

The total has gone under in 12 of the last 17 head-to-head meetings between the clubs, as well as 11 of the last 16 the two clubs have played in Kansas City.


The winner of Tuesday’s Wild Card matchup will hit the road and begin a best-of-five series with the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday.

On Wednesday, the San Francisco Giants will visit the Pittsburgh Pirates in the National League Wild Card Game. Betting Sports has the latest odds and trends for the game and will have a full preview on Wednesday.


For a full list of today’s Major League Baseball odds, click here.

For MLB Futures odds, courtesy of Bovada, click here.

For team prop bets, click here.

For player prop bets, click here.

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