Entering their final series before the All-Star break, the Oakland Athletics will need to get something going when they face off against the Texas Rangers in a key four-game set.
The A’s at 39-49 are 8.0 games behind the first-place Rangers, and can either sink further down the standings or make up some ground before the break. The A’s can achieve the latter by continuing to play solid baseball against the Rangers, who are 2-4 against the A’s this season.
Oakland’s pitching staff has been a major reason why the team still has a shot in the American League West, but going forward, the offense will need to step up and support a pitching staff that leads the AL in ERA (3.09).
Entering the Texas series, Oakland’s bats are hitting a combined .236/.302/.341 with a total of 46 home runs. The A’s have not gotten much production out of any one player on offense, and it seems like everyone not named Jemile Weeks is struggling offensively.
Outfielder Coco Crisp, who leads the team in plate appearances, leads the team with a .266 batting average. Fellow outfielder Josh Willingham, who has been sidelined since mid-June due to an injury, leads the team in both home runs (10) and RBIs (42). 1B Daric Barton, who was demoted to Triple-A Sacramento following his slow start, still leads A’s players who have at least 200 at-bats this season with his .325 OBP.
Needless to say, the A’s need to find some answers on offense before Billy Beane decides to call this season a wash and starts to go into a full-blown fire sale. Even with Moneyball coming to theaters this fall, if the A’s sink further down the standings this month, Beane won’t hesitate to deal his assets to other contending teams.
That’s why this series against the Rangers will be an important test for the A’s. The pitching is definitely there for Oakland. It always has been. It’s the offense that’s been the major roadblock this season for the Athletics. If the A’s play well during the series and show some life, they could head into the trade deadline as buyers, not sellers.
Tags: 2011 MLB 2011 MLB All-Star Game 2011 MLB Playoffs A's Starting Rotation AL AL West Baseball Billy Beane Coco Crisp Daric Barton Jemile Weeks Josh Willingham MLB Moneyball Pitchers Pitching Playoffs MLB Rotation Starting Pitching Texas Rangers