It didn't take long for the polish of that 7-game winning streak to wear off, did it? After splitting a four-game set with the Twins (an accomplishment for Minnesota, given their road record) and getting swept by the trio of Lincecum-Johnson-Cain over the weekend, the A's limp into Dodger Stadium having lost five of their last six. Even the biggest optimist would have trouble finding hope in this series, what with the Dodgers owning the best record in baseball (also comfortably ahead in the National League) even without the services of a certain dreadlocked left fielder.
The series across the bay proved the old adage again: great pitching beats terrible hitting, or something like that. There's no need to go over the carnage again but it underscores the problems this team has. If they can't get any production from the upper half of the order they're not going to have a real chance of winning unless a lot of things go their way. People have covered the issues the team has with Crosby, Davis and Hannahan (plus the pitcher's spot for nine games) in the lineup but I hold that while it sure doesn't help to have no faith in about half your lineup's ability to reach base, it's indicative of the larger problems the team has had with injuries and just not being built very well heading into the season. It's grown increasingly clear that the hope in spring training that the offense would be able to give the pitchers some breathing room was unrealistic.
In spite of that, there have still been some excellent signs out of the starters not named Brett Anderson lately. In the late-inning loss to the Twins on Wednesday, Dallas Braden allowed 2 runs in 7 innings. The next day, the only blemish on Trevor Cahill's record in 7 more innings was Joe Crede's 3-run homer. Vince Mazzaro allowed 3 in 6 on Friday, his first runs in three starts, but had the misfortune of going up against Lincecum. Then on Saturday Josh Outman allowed 2 in 6+ before some shoddy defense and ineffective relief work tacked on a couple more to his record.
The good thing is at this very moment they're getting solid starting efforts four out of every five games, something that bodes well for the future of their young staff. The bullpen is in an up and down mode right now but the offense really isn't doing anything apart from a few big innings here and there: dating back to the Baltimore series (10 games since) they've scored 40 runs in a total of 86 innings (4.2 a game). However, 28 of those runs came in big innings, defined here as 3 or more, of which they had seven (6 once, 5 once, 4 twice, 3 three times). That leaves the remaining 12 runs scoring in 79 innings. Take out the first two games against the Orioles and they've scored 22 runs in their last 8 games (2.75 per). Talk about feast or famine.
Tonight "Big Brother" (aka Braden) tries to keep the Dodgers off the board as much as he can while hoping the A's can put some runs on the board against Clayton Kershaw. The two other matchups will be "'Dactyl" (aka Cahill) against Hiroki Kuroda and "IV" or "Instant Vet" (aka Mazzaro) against Randy Wolf.
Maybe by the time the A's get to Petco Park this weekend to face a San Diego Padres team whose offense is about as bad as theirs we'll have seen the news that Bud Selig has agreed to let both teams use aluminum bats for the rest of the season. PING! Wait...what's the sound of poor contact being made?
06/16/09 7:10 PM PDT
|Oakland Athletics||Los Angeles Dodgers|
|Adam Kennedy - 2B||Juan Pierre - LF|
|Kurt Suzuki - C||Rafael Furcal - SS|
|Jack Cust - RF||Orlando Hudson - 2B|
|Matt Holliday - LF||Casey Blake - 3B|
|Jason Giambi - 1B||James Loney - 1B|
|Orlando Cabrera - SS||Matt Kemp - CF|
|Jack Hannahan - 3B||Andre Ethier - RF|
|Rajai Davis - CF||Russell Martin - C|
|Dallas Braden - P||Clayton Kershaw - P|