The A's get their first look at their new ace Saturday afternoon, as left-hander Jon Lester takes the mound against the Royals at O.co Coliseum.
Lester was acquired Thursday along with Jonny Gomes from Boston. The lefty is excited to go from the American League East cellar to the best team in baseball.
"Obviously leaving Boston after being there for so long is difficult, but I'm excited to be here," Lester said. "Going from a team that hasn't done so well this year to the team with the best record in baseball is exciting.
"They play the game the right way. Obviously their pitching staff has always been strong. It'll be fun to be a part of."
Lester has 2.52 ERA this season, including a 1.07 mark in his last eight starts. He also has owned Kansas City in his career, sporting a 1.43 ERA in 11 starts against the Royals. His 2008 no-hitter also came against K.C.
Opposing Lester is Royals lefty Jason Vargas, who makes his return to the mound after missing more than three weeks with an appendectomy.
Vargas made his last start on July 8 -- a 4-3 loss to the Rays -- but was taken to the hospital two days later, where he had his appendix removed and was subsequently placed on the disabled list.
A successful simulated start on Tuesday convinced Royals manager Ned Yost to pencil him in for Saturday.
"He wasn't tired at all after 60 pitches the other day," Yost said.
Nearly a month removed from his last start, Vargas acknowledged some excitement for Saturday.
"I'm not going to say I'm antsy because I'm not a particularly antsy person. But yeah, it's the only extremely fun part of my job. Otherwise I just sit around to watch. Definitely looking forward to pitching and I'm ready to go," Vargas said.
He draws a tough assignment in an Athletics team that leads MLB with a 66-42 record.
"They're still the best team in the American League, right? Run differential is pretty good and I know all the statisticians talk about that," Vargas said. "They've won the last two years for a reason and they find a way to get it done. They've got guys who grind, guys who can put the ball over the fence. When they put guys on base they can be real dangerous, so you've got to be ready and have a good game plan."
• Hitters No. 2 through No. 6 for the Royals finished 0-for-16 with six strikeouts on Friday.
• Jarrod Dyson stole his 22nd base of the season in Friday's win, and put Kansas City's season total at 90. It now owns sole possession of second place for most steals in MLB.
• Oakland collected just four hits for the second straight game. The Athletics have produced less than four hits in a game just five times this season.
• Gray extended his streak of allowing one earned run or less to six starts and 42 innings.
Jackson Alexander is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.