In a series the A's would probably have been happy to split going in, Oakland tries to ensure no worse than that behind their ace, and All-Star rep, Barry Zito. Zito has never lost 4 starts in a row...Yet. The lefty's competition is right-hander Josh Beckett, whose 11-4 record and 4.75 ERA do not seem to go together. Some of the discrepancy stems from a couple early starts in which Beckett was lit up, and some stems from the Red Sox' ability to score 29 runs for Beckett (9, 10, 10) in his last three wins; no doubt Zito would love to have the kind of run support that makes that combination possible.
From the A's point of view, the big news is Milton Bradley's return to the lineup. Bradley's 20 rehab at-bats with Sacramento not only yielded 8 hits, but also 2 HRs and 6 RBIs--all in one game. Granted this is Bradley's first major league game in a month, but it's a little odd to see Kotsay in the #3-hole while Bradley hits 7th, but there you have it: