Blez notes in a separate diary that you could see it coming, that the A's struggle to score "when facing a hot pitcher." That's spot on. In fact, I think it could be amended. With very few exceptions the A's struggle when facing any "good" pitcher. They don't have to be hot. They don't really even have to be that good.
(As an aside, let me say that the beloved Ken Korach, who is really terrific, just fabulous, I love him!, has only one annoying trait, and that is to note, seemingly night after night, that the opposing pitcher is "pitching beautifully." Well, maybe. But there's an alternative interpretation: maybe the A's just can't hit.)
And let's face it: this club can't hit. Last year's club couldn't hit, either. And until the A's get over the fact that runs won't simply "happen", that they won't win games by 5 runs by drawing walks and then hitting home runs, and thus they might actually want to think about manufacturing a run here and there so that they can ride what promises to be a terrific and deep cadre of arms in the second half ... then it's tough to see how this club does anything but limp along, modestly above .500, only to get destroyed by any and all comers in the first round of the playoffs.
Just look at the facts. The season is now about half over, and the A's are 26th in the league in runs scored, 24th in OPS, 26th in slugging, and 29th (29th!) in batting average, at .251. Only the minor leaguesque Tampa Bay Devil Rays have a lower batting average than the A's. Yeah, I know the Coliseum is a tough place to hit because there's so much foul territory. But what do the A's hit on the road? .248! At night the club hits .239! And many baseball games are now played at night...
Yeah, you say, but once we get healthy ...
Dream on, though, because it isn't injuries, either. In fact, one could argue that the A's have been "lucky" on offense this year. Swisher has been much better than expected, and I didn't think Kendall would hit as much as .275 (with a home run!), did you? The Big Hurt has 16 home runs, and Chavvy is where he always is - because he never gets worse but he never gets better, either. (And it doesn't look like he's getting healthy, either.) Sure it would be nice if Bradley were healthy, but he has been healthy for all of 1 of his 7 years in the league, and in that season he batter about what Kielty is hitting now. OK, a health Bradley might really have helped, I admit it. (Andre Ethier can sure hit, though...) Sure it would be nice if Crosby were hitting, but he really hasn't hit a lick since the league figured out that he can't hit breaking balls away. (Gee, do you think he'll see a curve ball that starts on the outer half of the plate and then moves down and away, out of the strike zone, for a flailing strike three?) Kotsay's numbers have trailed off very modestly, and DJ is hitting great lately after starting the season like he ended last. In short where are the big "disappointments" as a result of "injuries"? Beyond Ellis, it's hard to say. And did you think Ellis was going to hit .316 again this year? (Actually, I did; but I'm so pro-Ellis it's ridiculous.) It would be nice if Payton had more power this year, but over his career (not counting the one season in Colorado) he has homered about every 35 ABs. So on that basis his 3 HRs this year could have been 7. Yet his batting average is higher this year than it was the prior three. So, again, hard to say where the disappointment is, unless one wants to measure against dreams. The fact is that in 2005 the A's had an OPS of .737. This year's club is at .736.
I love my A's! I love my Billy Beane! But Giambi is gone and so is Miggy and this club still tries to play the game as if it weren't so. Chavvy will never carry this club and neither will Milton Bradley.
So put down a bunt, for crying out loud. Steal a base. Hit and run. Squeeze, for heaven's sake. Play the game as if you hit .251 as a team under the best of circumstances, as if your club bats .228 in games that are "close and late", and as if your club bats .220 with runners in scoring position and 2 outs. Play the game that way not because you want to but because you have to. Because all of those things are true, and the truth shall set you free!