Documenting the Athletics – From Philadelphia, to Kansas City, to Oakland and Finally to Fremont
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The Athletics ended their five game losing streak last night with a nice offensive performance over the Indians.Â The score was 9-0 by the second inning and Jack Cust belted his thirteenth homerun and he drove in five in the win.Â Â Six players had multihit games and all nine regulars got at least one hit in the game.Â Shannon Stewart had a game high four hits and three runs and Lenny DiNardo was able to coast to his second win of the season.
The bad news is, while the A’s were busy losing, the Mariners were busy winning, the A’s now sit three games back of them in second place and eight games back of the Angels for first.Â And this also takes into account the Angels embarrasing sweep at the hands of the Royals.Â And five games seperate them and the Indians for the Wild Card so the A’s have their work cut out for them.
They can make one of those games up against the Indians this afternoon as the finale in their four game series starts in less then an hour.Â Joe Blanton will take on a suprisingly good Paul Byrd.
Rich Harden came back on Monday and then had to leave the game.Â He’ll be shut down until at least this weekend but this is pretty discouraging because an almost healthy Harden would make a great compliment to the Blanton/Haren duo.
Shannon Stewart has seven hits and five runs in the past two games and he has nine hits in the past three.Â So just against the Indians, he’s seen his batting average rise almost twenty points.Â Hopefully that trend continues today.
Nick Swisher hasn’t a hit homerun since June 16th so we’re talking about an almost two week drought.Â This would be a nice day to end that run with one, or maybe even two or three long balls.Â Â He’s also seen his OPS dip well below .900 since the series with the Mets and it’d be nice if he could get back to what he was doing in May (.333/.444/.563).
I love these player profiles that Baseball Prospectus does and this week they take a look at A’s reliever turned starter Chad Gaudin.Â You get a run down on everything and everything the guys done, both in the majors and the minors.
I have to say, I never expected Dan Haren would be this good for this long of time.Â I always thought he’d be a decent pitcher but he’s been nothing short of phenomonal this year.Â Probably his most impressive number is how he’s simply dominated left handed pitching despite throwing from the right side.Â He’s held left handed hitters to a .151 batting average this year and this reverse platoon split is evident in his career numbers (.232 batting average against lefties versus .268 against righties).Â Â He’s also 6-0 at home despite actually having better numbers on the road.Â Still, you’re looking at a guy who, if the ballots came out today, should win the Cy Young.
And not to be outdone, Joe Blanton has put together a season that’s been pretty goodÂ He’s on pace to set career highs in just about everything while his walk rate is comfortably down.Â He’s also averaging seven innings start, which in this day and age is pretty impressive.Â And with two complete games, he’s shown he’s able to work deep into the games and give the pen a much needed break.
With Haren and Blanton as a nice one-two punch, the A’s have by far the best ERA in the American League. Only the Padres are better in all of baseball.Â So even when you combine that with a mediocre offense, the A’s should be primed to compete with the Angels all season.Â They sit just six games back (five in the loss column) but the surprising Mariners are right there as well.Â The Wild Card is even closer with the A’s being three games back of the Tigers.
Next up is going to be one of those weird series.Â The Mets are a good team but they’ve been ice cold in June.Â And the A’s have to travel to the east coast so this could be one of those series that could go either way.Â Lenny DiNardo gets the start in the opener tomorrow and he’ll face Tom Glavine.Â We’ll also have Milton Bradley back from the DL (again) so hopefully that will give the team a boost.Â The Angels play the Pirates, who aren’t the doormat the used to be so hopefully they can swipe a game (or two or three) over the weekend.
The A’s have been rolling.Â Unfortunately, the Mariners have been the hottest team in baseball andÂ the Angels haven’t been too shabby either.Â So despite winning eight of ten, the A’s have actually lost ground on the Mariners and picked up just one game on the Angels.Â Still, there’s a lot of games to be played and a five game deficit, while formidable, is far from insurmountable.
The emergence of Shannon Stewart has been a very nice story for the A’s.Â And while his slugging percentage is just .341, he leads the team with 31 runs and he has a very impressive 24/20 walk to strikeout ratio.Â And after struggling in April, he’s played very well since then.Â Both of his homeruns have been with men on scoring position and when you factor that in, he has an impressive .842 with RISP.Â He’s even better with two outs and men in scoring position with aÂ .414 batting average.
Danny Haren continues his run at a Cy Young.Â He’s won five straight starts and he hasn’t given up more then two runs in either of them.Â And a 76/21 strikeout to walk ratio will help do that trick, as will a .179 batting average against. Oddly, he’s been death on lefties with a .147 batting average against.
And for those of you who are Bobby Crosby fans, he was profiled over at Baseball Prospectus.Â It’s one of those great columns where you learn everything and anything about his playing career.
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