Royals-Athletics Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated April 08, 2012
The Kansas City Royals are coming off an impressive series victory thanks in large part to Eric Hosmer. The Oakland Athletics have a good idea what kind of difference the first baseman can make. Hosmer looks to continue his hot hitting as the Royals go for a third straight win when they visit the Athletics for the first of three contests Monday night. Hosmer collected four hits with two homers and four RBIs over the last two games in Anaheim, as Kansas City (2-1) won both after opening the season with a 5-0 loss to the Angels. He was 0 for 4 while fanning twice in that contest. He hit a two-run homer and scored three runs in Sunday's 7-3 win. "It was a good test for our ball team," said Hosmer, who finished third in last year's AL Rookie of the Year voting after hitting .293 with 19 homers and 78 RBIs. "I think this was a big statement for us to take two of three. It was big for our team to bounce back and take the series." The A's (1-3) know about Hosmer's ability after he hit .355 with a homer and three doubles over eight meetings last season. He went 8 for 22 in five visits to Coliseum. The Royals, though, dropped five of nine to Oakland last season, splitting six on the road. Luis Mendoza will try to get this series off to a strong start as he gets the ball because of a dazzling spring coupled with Felipe Paulino's right forearm tightness. The right-hander had a major league-best 0.47 ERA this spring while winning all four decisions in six starts with 21 strikeouts and five walks in 19 1-3 innings. Mendoza hasn't been given regular turns in a rotation since 2008 with Texas. That year, he went 2-6 with a 9.40 ERA in 11 starts before being moved to the bullpen. He's spent the majority of the last three seasons in the minors, but was the Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Year in 2011 for Triple-A Omaha. Mendoza went 14-5 with a 2.03 ERA before being recalled by Kansas City in September, winning both starts while yielding two earned runs in 14 2-3 innings. "I just try to bring all that from last year to the major league level," he told the team's official website. "I'm ready and this is what I've been waiting for all these years. A new team and a new challenge and I just look forward to doing well and helping my team." Mendoza has allowed three runs in 4 2-3 innings over four games - one start - versus the A's. Oakland comes into this series looking to bounce back after falling 8-7 to Seattle on Saturday, its second loss in as many games stateside. Rookie center fielder Yoenis Cespedes has been one of the team's few positives with one hit in each of the first four games, including a three-game streak of homers. He'll try to become the first A's rookie to homer in four consecutive contests since Dan Johnson from Aug. 3-6, 2005. Tommy Milone takes the mound for his Oakland debut after going 1-0 with a 3.81 ERA in five starts for Washington following his September recall. The rookie left-hander, part of the deal that sent Gio Gonzalez to the nation's capital, went 2-1 with a 4.91 ERA in five spring appearances.
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