"There are a lot of great pitchers who have debuted in the last 100 years, so to be at the top of that list right now feels great," Ziegler said. "It's real special. I feel like I've worked real hard to get here. I've never had anything handed to me, so it makes this that much more special."On the other hand, fans have come to expect zeros from Ziegler, so when he throws more of them out on the scoreboard day in and day out, he simply leaves everyone with a nothing-out-of-the-norm feeling. "He's obviously the best right now," Dana Eveland said. "It's pretty impressive what he's doing and just fun to watch." So how can the unassuming 28-year-old's success be explained? According to manager Bob Geren, Ziegler consistently goes to the mound with two important necessities. "From the mental side, he's showed no intimidation or fear from the first day," the A's skipper said. "On the physical side, he has a great sinker and is always producing ground balls." The side-armer's 27-inning scoreless streak represents the third longest by a reliever in Oakland history and the longest since 1975, when Paul Lindblad set the record with 32 1/3. "Every time he's out there," Geren said, "his confidence keeps growing."
Ziegler sent his cleats to the Hall of Fame after Sunday's game.
"That's honestly never something I thought I'd have to do," Ziegler said. "It's pretty incredible."Pitching matchup
OAK: LHP Dallas Braden (2-0, 4.05 ERA)
Braden, who has bounced back and forth between Triple-A Sacramento and Oakland this season, will be making just his third start after having spent most of his time with the A's as a relief pitcher. He got the win in his last start, against Tampa Bay, surrendering one run on four hits through five innings. Braden is 0-1 with an 8.44 ERA in his career against Kansas City. KC: RHP Zack Greinke (7-7, 4.06 ERA)
Greinke, after a superb getaway to his season, has not won in a month -- since June 24, when he beat the Rockies. Since then, he has three losses and two no-decisions in five starts and has a 6.67 ERA in that span. When the Tigers started belting his fastball early last Wednesday, he made an adjustment to more offspeed pitches, but admittedly he made it too late. Against Oakland, Greinke had a no-decision in a 6-5 loss on April 19. He's faced the A's eight times, with a 1-0 record and 2.83 ERA. Dribblers
After missing Saturday's game with a sore left pinky finger, Ryan Sweeney was back in the starting lineup playing right field on Sunday. ... Newcomer Eric Patterson, who arrived to the park just 30 minutes before game time after getting the call up from Triple-A Sacramento on Sunday, went 0-for-3 with two walks in his A's debut. "It was just good to get here and get that first game out of the way," Patterson said. ... Frank Thomas, who has been nursing right quadriceps tendinitis since May 29, said he felt an improvement when running on Sunday. "For me, it's about confidence," he said. "It felt good, so tomorrow we'll turn it up." ... In three rehab appearances with Triple-A Sacramento, Daric Barton (strained neck) is 3-for-13 with two runs and two RBIs. ... Jemile Weeks, the A's top pick in this year's First-Year Player Draft, had his 10-game hitting streak snapped on Saturday and is batting .362 over his last 11 games with Class A Kane County. Tickets
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Tuesday: Athletics (Greg Smith, 5-9, 3.90) vs. Royals (Gil Meche, 8-9, 4.31), 7:05 p.m. PT
Wednesday: Athletics (Sean Gallagher, 4-4, 4.03) vs. Royals (Brian Bannister, 7-9, 5.40), 12:35 p.m. PT
Jane Lee is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.