It's hard to believe that the Oakland Athletics are still holding a postseason spot since they are on the verge of losing a home series to a second consecutive last-place team.
They hope to avoid that fate by adding to Philadelphia Phillies starter A.J. Burnett's woes Sunday in the finale of this three-game set.Oakland (84-70) fell 3-0 on Saturday, although Kansas City also lost to ensure that the Athletics would maintain a wild-card slot going into Sunday.The club dropped to an AL-worst 6-16 since Aug. 28, falling to 1-4 on a nine-game homestand that began with a three-game sweep by Texas. Oakland has totaled a league-low 60 runs since that date, scoring nine while batting .186 on this homestand.Oakland's RBI leaders, Josh Donaldson and Brandon Moss, have combined for 14 hitless at-bats in this series."Just the production across the board from everybody was much better in the first four months or and hasn't been since," manager Bob Melvin said. "When you continually struggle, sometimes it affects your confidence but that's not an excuse. We should have confidence based on the amount of runs that we scored earlier in the season."The Athletics will try to get untracked against Burnett (8-17, 4.40 ERA), who seeks to avoid becoming baseball's first 18-game loser and the first for the Phillies (71-84) since Steve Carlton went 13-20 in 1973.The veteran right-hander lost more than 12 games once before this year when he had 15 with the New York Yankees in 2010. He contemplated retiring after last year, and was at a loss for words after giving up five runs over 5 2/3 innings in Tuesday's 5-4 defeat at San Diego."We'll describe it when the season is over," Burnett said.Burnett is 0-4 with a 5.58 ERA in five interleague starts. He is 5-4 with a 3.82 ERA in 11 starts against the Athletics, who he last faced in 2011.Coco Crisp is 3 for 21 against Burnett and Jed Lowrie 4 for 21.Josh Reddick went 2 for 3 on Saturday in his return after missing two games due to neck and ankle injuries. He's 0 for 8 off Burnett.Philadelphia got all the offense it needed Saturday from Freddy Galvis, whose two-run homer in the seventh inning snapped a scoreless tie.Galvis has been starting at shortstop for Jimmy Rollins, out since Sept. 8 due to a left hamstring strain. Rollins, a Bay Area native, could return."Seems to be doing pretty well," manager Ryne Sandberg told MLB's official website. "He did some jogging (Thursday), so some full sprints will be the last test and we'll see how he rebounds from that."A's starter Scott Kazmir (14-9, 3.44) is 0-4 with an 8.22 ERA in his last five starts. He surrendered six runs over 4 1/3 innings in Tuesday's 6-3 loss to the Rangers.The left-hander last faced the Phillies when he gave up four runs over five-plus innings in a 6-2 loss with Cleveland on May 14, 2013. He went 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA against them in two 2008 World Series starts with Tampa Bay.Rollins is 1 for 11 off Kazmir including the postseason and Ryan Howard is 1 for 10.
A.J. Burnett throws his curveball against righties at a rate of 32.1 percent, the highest frequency among qualifying pitchers in the league this season. Adam Dunn is batting .097 against righties in at-bats that end with a curveball, which is .145 points below league average among qualifying hitters this season.