A's take hot streak into Tampa Bay

A's take hot streak into Tampa Bay
April 19, 2013, 1:15 pm
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INSIDE THE MATCHUP

- Oakland has won 47 consecutive games when outhitting its opponent, the longest streak for the franchise since the Philadelphia A's won 56 straight games when outhitting their opponent from July 25, 1927-June 2, 1928.

- Tampa Bay has gotten at least 5.0 innings from its starting pitcher in 25 consecutive games dating back to last season, the longest active streak in the majors.

- Oakland's Seth Smith has a .447 batting average in 12 games played this season. The last A's player to have that high of an average through 12 games played in a season (minimum 30 at-bats) was Jerry Lumpe in 1960 (.458).

- The Rays' James Loney joins Albert Pujols as the only first basemen to collect 750 or more hits while striking out less than 400 times since 2008.

- Brett Anderson has a 3.05 strikeout-to-walk ratio in his career as well as a 2.07 ratio of ground balls to fly balls. Since 1987, the only other pitchers to have a strikeout-to-walk ratio of at least 3.00 and a ground/fly ratio of at least 2.00 (minimum 300 innings) are Greg Maddux (3.39/2.32) and Roy Halladay (3.69/2.03).

- In his career at home, Alex Cobb is holding opponents to a slugging percentage of just .304. Since 1974, the only pitchers to hold opponents to a lower slugging percentage at home (minimum 18 home starts) are J.R. Richard (.259) and Nolan Ryan (.281).

The Oakland Athletics lead the American League with 12 wins. They are finding success with one of their best position players, Yoenis Cespedes, on the disabled list and one of their best pitchers, Jarrod Parker, struggling. The A's have also found a way to win while Coco Crisp, Josh Reddick, and Brandon Moss have missed games.

Sure, half of their wins are against the Houston Astros, but it's hard to discount that the A's are off to their best 16-game start since 1990, based on the fact they've had to do it without several of their key contributors.

The reason they A's have been successful is because they have a balanced team. They don't rely on one or two big players to carry them. As manager Bob Melvin often says, the team likes to "pass the baton" offensively.

"We're doing a lot of the little things well, and that's what it takes to win," shortstop Jed Lowrie said. "I don't think one guy is doing anything more than what they should be. I think we are getting contributions up and down the lineup, that's why we've been consistent so far."

The A's have gone 84-43 since June 1, 2012, which is the best record in Major League Baseball over that span. They have picked up where they left off last season, proving their performance wasn't a fluke.

"We've got a very talented ballclub," catcher Derek Norris said. "We have good pitching and timely hitting and that will get you a lot of wins."

The A's are first in MLB in runs (96), walks (70) and doubles (40), and first in the AL with a .354 on-base percentage.

On the Road Again:

The A's are a perfect 6-0 on the road this season, their longest season-opening road winning streak since 1990. On their only road trip they swept the Angels in Anaheim and the Astros in Houston. The A's have only faced teams in their division. A trip to compete against the American League East presents them with new challenges. The A's have been successful against the Rays recently, winning three straight series against them.

Price is Right:

The top of the A's starting rotation will be opposing the Rays in this three game series. The Rays' best pitcher and reigning American League Cy Young Award winner, David Price, will not be taking the mound against the A's. That's a big break, but Oakland hasn't been too successful against Alex Cobb, who pitches in the first game of the series. Cobb was 2-0 against the A's last season and threw his first career shutout against them on Aug. 23 in Florida.

Batsmith:

Outfielder Seth Smith is easily the most underrated player on the team. Of Smith's 12 games this season, five have been multi-hit efforts. He enters the series against the Rays batting .447 with one home run and seven RBI. Smith, a left-handed hitter, was predominantly used as a platoon player in 2012. This season he is hitting .667 (8-for-12) against left-handed pitchers, instilling confidence in his skipper to leave him in the game when a lefty comes out of the bullpen.

 

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