KANSAS CITY -- A's hitters will be happy they don't have to see Royals pitching after Thursday night's series finale.
Oakland hitters batted just .171 against the Royals in the nine-game season series, the lowest mark against any opponent they've seen at least six times this year. They only scored 20 runs against the Royals, too. Only one lower run total has come against teams they've played more than three games against: 19 runs in seven games vs. the Yankees. Comparatively, the A's have scored 20 runs in four games against Detroit and 26 runs in just three games against Colorado.
Oakland won just four of the nine games against Kansas City, while four of the five losses were shutouts. The A's were held to three runs and 14 hits in the most recent series at Kauffman Stadium.
"I think earlier in the season we weren't swinging the bats real well. We have been recently, now we're short a couple of guys -- [Brandon] Inge and [Seth] Smith. Now you have to give them credit, too, and the way they pitched us," manager Bob Melvin said.
"I think they're a little different. Most teams, you're like 'all right, let's get in the bullpen.' Where with this team, you really don't want to get in the bullpen, so you want to do a little bit more damage to the starter before you get to the bullpen. We haven't been able to do that. We had some opportunities [in Wednesday's 3-2 loss]. And then the bullpen's come in and shut us down. We know they have an awfully good bullpen and to beat these guys, a lot of times you have to do the damage off the starter."
A's make plans to evaluate Anderson, Smith
KANSAS CITY -- A couple of key A's could be back in uniform very soon.
Pitcher Brett Anderson took the loss in his rehab start on Wednesday for Triple-A Sacramento. The lefty, recovering from Tommy John surgery performed in June 2011, allowed three runs on eight hits in five innings. He did strike out seven and walked none in Sacramento's 3-0 loss to New Orleans.
"They said he threw pretty well. Physically everything was fine," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "You like to see the no walks. They did score a few runs off of him, so maybe not as good as the last time out. He certainly got up, pitch-count wise, where we would liked to have seen it. Came out healthy, all the numbers were good on the quality of his pitches. So I would have to deem it a success."
Melvin said that Anderson will rejoin the team on Friday in Oakland to throw a bullpen session before being evaluated. The manager said that bullpen session could take place "pretty much anytime we want to do it," and that it will likely correspond with when he will make his next start for the A's.
Meanwhile, Melvin said injured outfielder Seth Smith -- out with a left hamstring strain -- will be evaluated on Friday. Smith will run the bases and swing the bat, and if all goes well over the next few days, according to Melvin, Smith could go on a rehab assignment early next week.
Gomes big fan of Petaluma Little League
KANSAS CITY -- Talk about a role reversal.
While a group of kids from Petaluma, Calif., played a nationally televised baseball game, their adult heroes gathered around the TV and cheered them on like a group of kids.
Hours ahead of Thursday's game with the Royals, many A's players were intently watching the Petaluma National team's Little League World Series game in the visitors' clubhouse at Kauffman Stadium.
And with each play the kids made, the Major Leaguers cheered loudly. "Yes!" after an RBI single, and "there ya go!" to egg on a double play. They all erupted when the final out was made and the Petaluma kids grabbed a 6-4 victory over a team from Connecticut in their first game of the World Series.
A's outfielder Jonny Gomes was the ringleader of the cheering section. He's from Petaluma, just a short drive north of Oakland.
"It's awesome. It really is. Being where I am now, I think it's so big to break it down to the drive -- that this will help their life and their career. To win so early on in their career, it's pretty special," Gomes said. "Of course, the hometown thing, getting these guys into it, it's pretty cool."
Gomes has been organizing donations from his teammates to help get the players to Williamsport, Pa., and said that they reached their goal. Gomes couldn't help but talk about the joys of being a fan, something he hasn't been able to do during much of his baseball career.
"It's a rare circumstance," Gomes said, "but you don't really have a chance to watch baseball and cheer someone on that's not your player. We play 162 games, so you don't really have a chance to go to a game or even watch a game that's not scouting or looking at pitchers. At the same time, it's kind of fun to watch the game of baseball in that aspect.
"We're all sitting here telling Little League stories, this and that. 'This one time, this kid got hit in the face,' or -- the kid we have in Petaluma is 6-2, big guy, big cat -- so we're talking about how we were all small when we were that age. Just sharing stories, it's fun."
Vinnie Duber is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.