With all the other more notable talent that makes up the Kansas City Royals' pitching staff, it's easy for Kris Medlen to be overshadowed. However, opponents should take notice when the right-hander steps on the mound in their own park.
Medlen looks to win a sixth straight road start in Sunday's decisive series finale against the Oakland Athletics.
After missing the 2014 season following elbow surgery then signing with Kansas City in December of the same year, Medlen returned to major league action last July as a reliever before joining the rotation in late August. He went 1-2 with a 7.59 ERA in four home starts last season, but including his 2016 debut at Houston on Tuesday, Medlen has a 1.95 ERA while winning all five road starts for the Royals (8-3).
He overcame six hits and four walks to allow two runs and strike out seven in five innings of the 3-2 victory over the Astros.
"The truth is I was just excited to be out there and being a baseball player again," Medlen, who pitched his first five seasons with Atlanta, told MLB's official website.
This will be his first appearance against Oakland (5-7), which evened the three-game set and snapped its own four-game slide and the Royals' four-game winning streak with Saturday's 5-3 victory.
Josh Reddick hit a three-run first-inning homer for the A's, who matched half of their run total from the previous five contests. Sonny Gray helped by holding Kansas City to two runs in six innings.
"You never want to say this early in the season anything is a must-win, but it was a big win for us," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "We needed to get it to get some confidence back here. ... We always want to play well in front of our fans."
Despite batting .250, Reddick has three home runs and a team-leading eight RBIs. He's hitting .345 with three homers and seven RBIs in his last eight home games against the Royals.
Teammate Chris Bassitt (0-0, 2.92 ERA) will try a third time to earn his first victory, but could also use some help after receiving three runs of support in those first two. After giving up four runs and eight hits in 5 1-3 innings of a 5-4 loss to the Chicago White Sox on April 5, the right-hander overcame five walks to yield an unearned run and three hits in seven of a 2-1, 10-inning victory at Seattle five days later.
"His contributions (against the Mariners) were immense," Melvin said.
Bassitt will face the Royals for the first time since he posted a 6.23 ERA without a decision over two starts against them in 2014 for the White Sox.
Alcides Escobar is 3 for 5 against Bassitt while Alex Gordon and Mike Moustakas are each 2 for 4 with a double.
Dealing with a hamstring problem, Moustakas went 0 for 5 after getting Friday night off.
''I needed a day off just to rest my hammy and take it a little easy,'' he said. ''What's great about our team is guys can get days off and we're not going to skip a beat.''