The A’s enter Monday tied for second-place in the American League West with the Angels, as both clubs trail the Texas Rangers by 8.0 games. In their last series, the A’s split a four-game set at home against the well-balanced Tampa Bay Rays. In fact, Oakland should have taken three games in the series if it hadn’t been for their shaky bullpen in game three.
All of that, however, is in the past. The A’s will embark on a 10 game road trip starting Tuesday, with stops in Cleveland, Texas and New York. This upcoming road trip is possibly the most crucial stretch remaining for Oakland. With August coming to a close relatively soon, the A’s need to make the most out of these next 10 games or so. If the A’s can take the series against the struggling Indians, they could have enough momentum in their favor to make some noise once they arrive in Arlington.
Either way, however, the A’s just need to play smart baseball. The pitching staff has been incredible this season, especially when you look at how much the young hurlers have grown this season. The A’s pitching staff ranks 4th in baseball with a 3.54 ERA. Offensively, however, the A’s aren’t as impressive. They rank 19th in baseball with a .256 batting average, last in home runs with 73, and 26th in runs scored with 494.
Oakland does rank 4th in baseball, however, in stolen bases with 109 total. If the A’s remain aggressive on the base-paths, guys like Daric Barton, Kurt Suzuki, Kevin Kouzmanoff and the red-hot Cliff Pennington could potentially drive in their share of runs. The A’s don’t have much power on offense—even Jack Cust isn’t driving the ball deep anymore—so they have to rely on a small-ball approach. Stealing bases has become an integral part of how the A’s offense works. That’s why A’s GM Billy Beane signed Coco Crisp this offseason, so he could compliment Rajai Davis on offense. Crisp has stolen 21, and Davis has swiped 36 of his own this season.
The A’s will embark on a tough road trip, and they know that. This is that crucial stretch of the season, where teams either make it or break it.
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