Time is running short for the Oakland A's if they are going to claim one of the American League wild-card spots. They need to win series -- if not sweep them -- every chance they get in order to pass the three teams in front of them.
Oakland (78-67) will have a chance to claim a three-game seriesagainst the Kansas City Royals when the set concludes with a Thursday matinee. The A's will send right-hander Paul Blackburn (0-2, 5.24 ERA) to the mound to face left-hander Daniel Lynch (4-4, 5.37).
The A's trail the Toronto Blue Jays, New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox by 3 1/2 games in a chase for two postseason berths.
Oakland bounced back Wednesday with a 12-10 victory, one night after blowing a six-run lead en route to a 10-7 defeat. The A's held a seven-run lead heading into the bottom of the seventh Wednesday before the Royals stranded the tying and winning runs in the ninth.
"Getting four in the seventh was huge," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. "Our offense probably right now is as good as it's been all year. We're scoring a lot of runs. We're just having a tough time holding the other teams down right now. I'd like to think at some point it's going to even out."
Blackburn has started all five of his appearances this season, but his longest outing has been 5 2/3 innings, and he hasn't made it through the fourth in his past two starts. On Friday against the Texas Rangers, he gave up four runs on six hits in 2 2/3 innings.
Blackburn has faced the Royals twice in his career, in 2017 and 2018, and compiled a 1-0 record with a 4.50 ERA in two starts.
The Royals (66-79) called an audible after Tuesday's game when they placed Mike Minor on the injured list, retroactive to Monday, due to left shoulder impingement syndrome. He was due to start Wednesday's game, so Thursday's scheduled starter, Carlos Hernandez, moved up a day and took the loss.
The fact that the Royals have used a six-man rotation for several weeks makes the option of changing starters' designated days a little easier for manager Mike Matheny.
"The benefit of the six-man rotation through these long stretches of games is being able to take some of the load off these players and give them extra rest," Matheny said. "That proved to help when they all were getting extra days of rest. Instead of two, now they'll just get one.
"This is really where they want to be anyway. These guys are ready to pitch. I think the organization has done a nice job of staying on top of when to give guys a little bit of rest. Right now, we have a couple of off days, so the six-man isn't necessary to give the guys an extra day of rest, except for one time through."
Lynch, who will be facing the A's for the first time in his career, has been far more effective since being recalled in late June than he was in his initial big-league stint. He is 4-2 with a 3.67 ERA in his past nine outings, compared to the 15.75 ERA he took back to Triple-A Omaha after three starts.
In his latest start, Lynch gave up four runs on seven hits in six innings at Minnesota on Friday. He yielded all four runs in the first inning before following with five scoreless frames.
"This one was probably his best, how he got backed into a corner with 33 pitches and four loud runs," Matheny said after the Royals wound up beating the Twins 6-4 in 11 innings. "For him to end up finishing six innings, what an incredible job of pitching."
--Field Level Media