DESPITE ROAD TRIP, A’S REMAIN IN GOOD POSITION
Let’s take a deep breath and exhale. Yes, it’s true the A’s went a rather uninspiring 2-5 on their just-completed road trip. In the process, their three-game lead in the AL West melted away about as fast as you could say Nelson Cruz and Raul Ibanez. But let’s try to have some perspective. Despite the disappointing trip, Bob Melvin’s troops are still perched 10 games above .500 at 44-34 and trail the Texas Rangers by only one game in standings.
A year ago on this date? Oakland stood at 35-38, lodged in third place in the AL West and trying to extricate itself from a 10-game deficit to Texas. On this date last season, the Athletics were averaging 3.8 runs per game and hitting an almost anemic .227. This year, the A’s are batting 22 points higher with a team average of .249 and are also averaging nearly one run more per game (4.6). And consider this: the 2013 A’s are playing at a .564 clip even though their two best hitters from last year have yet to warm up as we close the door on June. Yoenis Cespedes is batting .224, while Josh Reddick owns a .216 figure. It’s safe to say both should hit much better in the season’s second half. Meanwhile, three key young arms in our starting rotation—Jarrod Parker (4.27), A.J. Griffin (3.90) and Tommy Milone (3.98)—are bound to improve their ERAs in the final three months. Last season, Parker, Griffin and Milone finished the regular season with ERAs of 3.60, 3.06 and 3.74, respectively.
While there’s good reason to conclude the Athletics are in a good position as we head into midseason, there is no question they will have to prove their mettle over the next few weeks if they want to be considered a legitimate playoff contender. Beginning with the defending NL Central champion Cincinnati Reds tomorrow night, Oakland will face a six-team stretch before the All-Star Break where its cumulative opponents’ winning percentage is .548 (249-205). What’s more, four of the six teams on their schedule—Cincinnati (45-32), St. Louis (47-29), Boston (45-33) and Pittsburgh (46-30)—have won more games than the Green & Gold at this point of the campaign.
So, if you want to see some intense, competitive baseball, I suggest you head out to the O.co Coliseum in the next couple weeks. Even though we haven’t yet hit the midway point of the season, these games might give any early indication what teams might be playing come October. The proof will be on the field. Hope to see you early and often.