The Kansas City Royals’ lackluster record might be even more meager without their occasional showcases of grittiness.
After rallying for their first victory against the Oakland Athletics this season, the Royals will try to close out the three-game series in winning style Sunday.
Kansas City (41-43) hasn’t been over .500 since May 18, but recorded its major league-best 28th comeback victory and third this month Saturday. Jarrod Dyson drove in the go-ahead run in a 4-3 win with a two-out infield single in the eighth inning.
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“Sometimes games aren’t going to go our way, but we aren’t going to hang our heads,” said Dyson, who had a season-high three hits after going 0 for 10 in his previous four games. “We’re going to keep battling. You can see it in here, see it out there. Everybody is working hard every day.”
The victory snapped Oakland’s five-game win streak in the series, and Luis Mendoza (2-4, 4.41 ERA) will try to follow by earning his first victory against the A’s (51-37).
Mendoza is 0-1 in three career starts versus Oakland despite posting a 1.98 ERA. He gave up three runs over six-plus innings in his only matchup this season, a 4-3 loss May 19.
Mendoza is 0-1 with a 5.74 ERA in his last three outings and didn’t make it past the fourth inning for only the second start this season Tuesday against Cleveland. He gave up four runs and matched a season high with four walks in a 6-5 loss, but didn’t get a decision.
“I was just trying to figure what was wrong with my mechanics and my release points,” said the right-hander, who threw 86 pitches in four innings.
Mendoza will again pitch opposite A.J. Griffin (6-6, 3.95), who gave up three runs over six innings without a decision in his lone appearance against Kansas City.
Griffin was charged with seven runs and a career-high 10 hits Tuesday against the Chicago Cubs but avoided the loss when his teammates rallied for an 8-7 win. He recorded his first career shutout and complete game – a two-hitter – in his previous outing June 26 against Cincinnati.
“I felt fine out there,” Griffin told the team’s website. “They just got the big hit when they needed it. I felt like I was making good pitches, and they really didn’t make hard contact that much. I’m just fortunate enough to be on a team that scores a ton of runs.”
The A’s are trying for an eighth win in 11 games and Grant Balfour is in position to establish a franchise record by converting 41 consecutive saves. Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley converted 40 in a row Sept. 15, 1991-Aug. 7, 1992.
Kansas City’s Eric Hosmer, batting .406 with five homers in his last eight games, hit an RBI double off Griffin in May. Alex Gordon went 3 for 3 against the right-hander in that game.
Gordon returned Saturday after missing two games following a collision with the bullpen fence in Wednesday’s 6-5 victory over Cleveland.
Jed Lowrie is 3 for 6 with two doubles all-time against Mendoza, and Seth Smith is 3 for 5 with a double.