MLB playoffs: Royals host Athletics in AL wildcard showdown
Kansas City baseball fans are rejoicing that a meaningful game will be played in their town Tuesday night. Oakland has been down this road before.
For one team, the postseason has almost become an annual rite of fall. For the other, Tuesday night marks the end of nearly 30 years of frustration.
The Oakland Athletics will play the Kansas City Royals in Kansas City in a one-game playoff for the right to meet the Los Angeles Angels in the American League Division Series, beginning Thursday in Anaheim, Calif.
Oakland will start lefthander Jon Lester, whom they acquired at the July 31st trade deadline from the Boston Red Sox. Lester has a record of six wins and four losses since the trade. Overall, he was 16-11 in 2014. Lester has a 6-4 record in the postseason.
The Royals will counter with righthander James Shields, who had 14 wins versus 8 losses and an earned run average of 3.21 this season. Prior to joining the Royals in 2013, Shields compiled a 2-4 postseason record with the Tampa Bay Rays including a trip to the 2008 World Series.
Both teams used almost all 162 regular season games to reach the postseason. Oakland clinched their wildcard berth by beating the Texas Rangers on Sunday. Kansas City punched its ticket with a win over the White Sox in Chicago last Friday night.
With Tuesday night's wildcard game, the Oakland Athletics have now reached Major League Baseball postseason in eight of the last 15 years. The past two years, the A's lost to Detroit in one of the American League's Division series, three games to two.
Prior to that, the Athletics franchise had played in 15 World Series between 1905 and 1990. Since moving to Oakland, the A's have won four World Series championships.
As part of their franchise history, the Athletics actually spent time in Kansas City. The franchise moved to the Great Plains from Philadelphia after the 1954 season and stayed there through the 1967 season, when they moved further west.
Following the A's departure, the Royals came on the scene in 1969. After memorable American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees in the 1970s, Kansas City finally broke through in 1980 and reached their first World Series. 16 years after their birth, the Royals won the 1985 World Series by defeating the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games.
Tuesday night marks the Royals' first trip back to the MLB postseason in 29 years.
You can watch the Royals and Athletics on TBS, beginning at 8 p.m. Eastern time Thursday.
[Editor's note: The original version of this article misstated the throwing arm of Royals pitcher James Shields.]