Oakland Athletics (5-5) at Kansas City Royals (7-2), 8:10 p.m. (ET)

(SportsNetwork.com) – Billy Butler returns to Kauffman Stadium as a member of
the Oakland Athletics on Friday when they kick off a three-game set against
the Kansas City Royals in a rematch of last year’s American League Wild Card

Butler spent the first eight seasons of his career with the Royals, but after
they declined his club option for 2015, he inked a three-year, $30 million
pact with the A’s this offseason.

An All-Star in 2012, Butler has already endeared himself to the fans in
Oakland and on Friday he can become the first player in team history to hit in
his first 10 games with them. Through 10 games Butler is hitting .359 with a
home run and six RBI.

He’ll also be celebrating his 29th birthday on Saturday.

“Ever since I signed with the A’s,” he said, “I realized on the schedule I
would be there on my birthday. It’ll be fun. I don’t know how the game looks
from the third-base side.”

Oakland has split its first 10 games, but righty Sonny Gray has been
tremendous, going 1-0 with a 0.59 ERA. After nearly throwing a no-hitter on
Opening Day, Gray was again marvelous against Seattle on Saturday, as he held
the Mariners to two runs (1 earned) and six hits over 7 1/3 innings. However,
he did not factor in the decision of his team’s 5-4 loss.

“Great again, and a little under the weather today, too,” said A’s manager Bob
Melvin. “You couldn’t ask for more than what he gave us.”

Gray, though, has lost both times he has faced Kansas City, but has only
allowed three runs in 14 innings,

Kansas City had picked up right where it left off last season, winning its
first seven games of the season. But the Royals ran into some trouble in
Minnesota and head into Friday’s opener riding a two-game losing streak
following an 8-5 setback on Thursday.

Lorenzo Cain ended a triple shy of the cycle (3-for-4) for the Royals with
three RBI and three runs scored. He has had at least one hit in all nine games
this year and is hitting .429 with two homers and 11 RBI.

After hitting just five homers in 133 games last year, Cain now has two in his
last two games.

Heading to the hill for the Royals on Friday will be righty Jeremy Guthrie,
who beat the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim his first time out. Guthrie wasn’t
particularly sharp in that one, but did enough, as he allowed four runs and
six hits in seven innings.

Guthrie is 4-5 lifetime versus the A’s with a 4.55 ERA in 12 games (11

Kansas City has won its last four versus the A’s, including last season’s
thrilling victory in the AL Wild Card game.