A's lineup: Crisp returns

A's lineup: Crisp returns
August 29, 2012, 8:23 pm
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The Oakland Athletics have won their last six games against the Indians, and have shut them out in their last three contests. The A's are now a season-high 14 games over .500, with two more games remaining against Cleveland before heading home to the Coliseum. Oakland Athletics (71-57) lineupCoco Crisp, CF
Stephen Drew, SS
Yoenis Cespedes, LF
Seth Smith, DH
Chris Carter, 1B
Josh Reddick, RF
Josh Donaldson, 3B
Derek Norris, C
Cliff Pennington, 2B
Instant AnalysisCoco Crisp returns to the lineup after a day off to rest and help heal a sore foot. The immediate impact is a return to the sixth spot in the batting order for Josh Reddick. He went 5 for 8 with a homer in two games while batting sixth and it was a surprise to see him batting second for the first time this season on Tuesday. While batting second, Reddick popped out with the bases loaded in the second inning. He is hitting just .185 with runners in scoring position this season, the only blemish in an otherwise fantastic year. The sixth spot in the lineup might be a good place for him to hit even when he turns it around. Seth Smith is the designated hitter yet again. It appears the A's still don't want him in the outfield after straining his left hamstring. Since returning from the DL on August 21 all six of his starts have been as the DH. Smith has struggled all season offensively when not playing in the outfield, but seems to be overcoming the challenge lately. He is hitting .333 (7 for 21) with six runs, a double, a homer, and two RBIs since coming off the DL. Top of the OrderCrisp has become one of the most important players in the A's lineup. He is experiencing improvement across the board in 2012, even after getting off to a very slow start. He attributes his success to a modified batting stance and moving back to center field. He is apparently also killing sliders this year. Here are few statistical breakdowns on Crisp, courtesy of Bloomberg Sports.

Heart of the OrderYoenis Cespedes has been menacing pitchers all season. He is struggling on this road trip though, batting .143 with no walks and five strikeouts. Even with the recent dip in offense, he is hitting .333 since the All-Star Break, which is the eighth best average in the American League in that span.The reason Cespedes has been so successful this season is because he has found ways to quickly adjust on the fly. Pitchers have tried to exploit his perceived weaknesses many different ways this year only to see him modify his approach at the plate. Early this year pitchers tried to fool him on breaking pitches -- it didn't work. Then they tried pitching him outside -- he started going opposite field. Lately he is crushing change-ups.
(Courtesy Bloomberg Sports)Cespedes was 1 for 2 with a home run last time he faced Indians' pitcher Corey Kluber.
Bottom of the OrderDerek Norris is batting .197 with five doubles, two home runs, and 11 RBIs since returning to the A's on August 3. Norris is a rookie with a lot of responsibility behind the plate, so the A's aren't going to worry about his offense too much. That being said, he has been more productive than Kurt Suzuki offensively.
(Courtesy Bloomberg Sports)Norris has a lot to work on. Opponents have been able to successfully steal in 21 of 26 (80.8 ) attempts against him. The young catcher is calling a good game though, as A's pitchers have a 3.02 ERA with him behind the plate. Starting PitchersThe A's will dip into their pitching depth and start Travis Blackley (4-3, 3.52 ERA) on Wednesday. It will be his 19th appearance and 12th start this year. The Australian-born lefty is 3-3 with a 4.04 ERA in 11 starts. The Indians will counter with Kluber (0-2, 5.32 ERA). The right-handed pitcher allowed one run against the Yankees over five innings in his last start.

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