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Can Streaking Royals Solve Red-Hot Jon Lester on Tuesday?
It's a potential playoff preview on Tuesday night in Kansas City as the Royals could potentially take over first place in the AL Central as they take on the Oakland A's, the team with the best record in the majors, and ace Jon Lester. Oakland is a -144 opening favorite with a total of 7.5 runs.
Lester (12-7, 2.44) of course was acquired from Boston ahead of the July 31 trade deadline, and he has won both Oakland starts. Lester was unstoppable in his second A's start on Thursday vs. the Twins, tossing his fourth career shutout. He fanned eight and walked two while allowing just three hits. In his last 10 outings, the lefty is 6-0 with a 1.21 ERA. Lester might yet make a push to win the AL Cy Young Award. That had been largely a two-man race between Seattle's Felix Hernandez and the White Sox's Chris Sale.
Lester's penultimate start as a member of the Red Sox was July 20 at Fenway Park, blanking the Royals on four hits over eight innings. He struck out eight. Royals All-Star Alex Gordon struggles in his career off Lester, going 3-for-22 with eight strikeouts. Billy Butler is 4-for-25 with nine strikeouts. Raul Ibanez has some success off him, going 5-for-15 with a double and a solo homer.
Jeremy Guthrie (8-9, 4.35) starts for the Royals. Guthrie gave the Royals their first complete game last Thursday night at Arizona. He finished strong, retiring the last 19 batters he faced. Giving up seven hits, all singles, Guthrie didn't issue a walk and needed just 108 pitches. He pitched in Oakland on Aug. 1 and held the A's scoreless on three hits in a win. Coco Crisp is 8-for-25 career off Guthrie. Josh Reddick is 7-for-21 with two doubles. John Jason has two homers and five RBIs in 21 at-bats off him.
The Royals have won four straight at home against left-handed starters. Kansas City is are 4-1 in Guthrie's last 5 starts vs. a team with a winning record. The over is 4-0 in Guthrie's past four at home.
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