The A's continue to be one of the more Jekyll and Hyde teams in Major League Baseball this season, after sweeping the Orioles over the Memorial Day weekend and winning 5 of their last 6 games, they looked like they may be getting themselves on track. But, as has been the case so often this year, they were shut-out Monday night by Bartolo Colon, who exposed their in-patient hitters.
They let the 38 year-old Bartolo Colon, a 38 year-old who's been out of baseball since '09, to throw his best game in 6 years! The A's scrawny bats made Colon look like a modern day Roger Clemens out there, burrying the A's with fastballs and needing just 103 pitches to complete 9 innings against them. That's a ridiculously low number of pitches for a complete-game, which normally requires at least 120 pitches from a starter, but Bartolo burnt right through the A's like a hot-knife through butter. You have to hand it to him though, he was throwing well, hitting the mid-90's even in the ninth inning, but that's still no excuse for a Major League offense to go quietly into the night against big Bartolo. The main problem for the A's right now, in my opinion at least, is the top of that lineup, especially the #2 spot, where Bob Geren insists on hitting Daric Barton. The first basemen just isn't working out for the A's, and I don't know how long it's going to take them to figure it out? After a very mediocre season last year which was way below average offensively for a 1B'men, the A's were hoping he'd build on it and only improve, but that hasn't been the case. The 26 year-old is now hitting .206 with a .525 OPS! I know Chris Carter strikes out a few more times, but I have no doubt in my mind he's a better option at first for the A's right now though, in nothing else, at least move him into the 9th spot and out of the 2 hole.
On the contrary, Josh Willingham has been a beam of light that's kept this team afloat and was huge over the weekend. Willingham hit 2 homers and drove in 7 runs over the weekend, and now has 9 home runs and 35 RBI on the year, leading the A's in both categories by a long shot. Fellow new outfielder, David Dejesus is starting to pick it up though, at least, and has hit .261 with 4 homers and 11 RBI in May. Still not quite where he should be average wise, but you can start to see him moving in the right direction. Coco Crisp has also, quietly, been a rock atop the A's lineup and finally looks healthy. He's got 16 steals and has hit around .275 all year long, providing stability in the leadoff spot. But I'd try and mix things up after him if I were Geren, in order to try and jump-start their bats. Again, why Jemile Weeks is still in AAA, while hitting .340 with pop and run production while Mark Ellis is struggling to stay above the mendoza line (.210 average). Their only regulars hitting over .250 right now are Kurt Suzuki, barely at .251 and Crisp, everyone else is down closer to .200 and with 2 months in the books, patience is getting thin! Some players need 150 at-bats to get going and normally by 200-250 at-bats, you'll know what kind of season a player is going to have, and that's right where these guys are at, so expecting a miraculous turnaround is wishful thinking!
We knew it coming in, this team's hitting was way behind it's pitching, but I actually thought the pitching would prevail, and after the weekend, I started to think they may be on the up-swing, but the Colon shutout reminded me just how pitiful that offense can be. Even though there just a handful of games out of first place and it's still pretty early, unless this team brings up some minor leaguers that hit right away, and/or Billy Beane adds 2-3 hitters to the roster via trade, the pitching, even if the main 4 (Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson, Gio Gonzalez, Tyson Ross) do get and stay healthy all year, won't be quite enough in this division with the Rangers and Angels!