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Oakland Athletics Win Fourth In A Row, Continue to Improve

Andrew GodfreyCorrespondent IJune 6, 2009

OAKLAND, CA - MAY 27:  Matt Holliday #5 of the Oakland Athletics bats against the Seattle Mariners at the Oakland Coliseum on May 27, 2009 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

The Athletics are showing they haven’t given up yet on the 2009 AL West pennant race. They have the longest winning streak in the majors after posting their fourth straight win.

The Orioles were the victims of a 9-1 shellacking by the Athletics last night. They have outscored their opponents 26-4 in their four wins.

Two of those wins were 5-0 and 7-0 shutout wins over the White Sox. Dallas Braden (5-5) took the win last night and is the veteran of the starting rotation, having 36 starts to his credit.

Jason Giambi has hit eight homers but is only hitting .217 and is hitting .188 for the month of June.

Matt Holliday is finally hitting the way Billy Beane expected him to hit. He had one homer and 12 RBI in April and hit .240.

Holliday hit five homers and drove in 16 runs in May while hitting .291.

He has hit two homers and driven in eight runs in the first five games in June. His June on-base percentage is .512 and he is slugging .944 for the month while hitting .444.

The Athletics may get a better deal if they trade Holliday before the trading deadline if he continues to hit well. However, they may rather keep Holliday than trade for prospects who probably won’t be able to help this season.

Jack Cust is hitting .214 in June but is slugging .643 for the month. Cust is not reaching base as often as he did in his first season with the Athletics. He had a .408 OBP in 2007, .375 in 2008, and it is .341 this season.

He struck out 197 times in 2008 but has struck out only 50 times in the first third of this season. He is on a pace to strike out 150 times.

His plate discipline has regressed since his 111 walks last season. He only has 25 this season and is on a pace to have 75 walks by the end of the season.

Adam Kennedy was a player without a team until the Athletics signed him, and he has hit well since joining the team. He played his first game of the season on May 9, and by the end of the month he was hitting .390.

It has been a different story for Kennedy in June, with two hits in 18 at bats, hitting .111.

He is still leading the team in batting average with a .340 mark, in on-base percentage at .416 and in slugging with a .530 slugging percentage.

Orlando Cabrera has been a huge disappointment, hitting progressively worse each month of the season. He hit .250 in April, .228 in May and .111 in June, and, like Kennedy, has two hits in his last 18 at bats.

Nomar Garciaparra has only played in 14 games this season and is hitting .250.

Mark Ellis hasn’t played in a game since April 28 and is only hitting .206.

Eric Chavez hasn’t played since April 24 and has played in only eight games. He has played in fewer games each year since playing in 160 games in 2005.

Since then, he played in 137 games in 2006, 90 games in 2007, 23 games in 2008, and eight games this season. He has missed 281 games in his last four seasons, including 2009.

Kurt Suzuki is hitting .283, which is third best on the team. No other regular player is hitting higher than .250.

Bobby Crosby, who hit .239 in 2004 when he won the AL Rookie of the Year Award, has only hit higher than that once in the last five seasons and is hitting a career low of .205 this season.

The Athletics starting rotation took a huge hit when Justin Duchscherer was placed on the disabled list when the season started. The Athletics have decided to let their young pitchers learn to pitch at the major league level.

Brett Anderson is 21, Trevor Cahill is 21, Vin Mazzaro is 22 and Josh Outman is 24.

Cahill would have a respectable ERA if not for losses to the Rays and Tigers, in which he gave up seven runs in both games. He gave up three runs in 13 innings in two losses to the Mariners, which were due more to the lack of offense than his pitching.

He has allowed only two earned runs in nine of his 11 starts and his ERA is dropping each month.

Josh Outman is the most effective of the young starters with a 3-0 record. Outman had one stretch of three starts in which he gave up only two runs in 19 innings.

The Athletics are eight-and-a-half games behind the first place Rangers in the AL West. However, they are only two games behind the third-place Mariners and six games behind the Angels, who are in second place.

The team needs to continue to play like they have in the last four games and combine good hitting and good pitching.

The Athletics have had very low attendance this season and are 28th in the majors in average attendance with 17,869 per game. Only the Marlins and Pirates have drawn fewer fans per game.

They are filling the stadium to 40 percent of capacity, which is last in the major leagues.

The Athletics are last in hitting in the AL with a .240 average but are third in the AL with a 4.29 ERA, which ties them with the Red Sox.

If the Athletics hitting can improve over the last two thirds of the season and the pitching continues to improve, they could still make a run at the AL West championship.

 

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