The A's won today and stretched their lead to three games in the AL West before going to their own personal house of horrors in Arlington, Texas (it seems like that list is growing, doesn't it? It used to just be just a few places, but now the Metrodome, Fenway, Yankee Stadium, Jacobs Field and Arlington are on that list).
The A's start out with Mark Mulder, who has a 5.36 ERA in Arlington since 2001. It hasn't been his favorite park to pitch in, so it isn't likely he'll make the turnaround most of us are waiting for.
And more than any other pitcher in the A's rotation, Mulder's current statistics indicate he has had LUCK this season, according to Baseball Prospectus (subscription only). His expected win-expected loss record is only 12-11 and he's been the leader in the AL in LUCK. Here is their explanation for LUCK and expected W-L:
Luck, as measured by the number of extra wins, and short losses the pitcher actually got, versus his expected record. LUCK = (W-E(W))+(E(L)-L)
Expected loss record for the pitcher, based on how often pitchers with the same innings pitched and runs allowed earned a win or loss historically (this differs from how it was computed, which was a more complicated, theoretical calculation).
Expected win record for the pitcher, based on how often pitchers with the same innings pitched and runs allowed earned a win or loss historically (this differs from how it was computed, which was a more complicated, theoretical calculation).
I'm certainly not singling Mulder out and saying he is alone because the September problem has been largely rotation-wide, according to Joe Sheehan, but to me, the key to this whole thing is Mark Mulder. He needs to get better. And soon.
Zito is finally turning his season around. Hudson had a quality start that he battled through yesterday. Harden has been maturing every day. Redman is still playing home goat and away hero. But Mulder is crucial to the A's success.
Tuesday will provide a big test, especially because the Athletics will be facing 2.67 ERA in Arlington Ryan Drese.