(OAKLAND)—Stop the presses! The 2015 Oakland Athletics are riding a winning streak. A modest one, to be sure, but it is a streak nonetheless. After winning two straight games for just the second time this season, the A’s come back home today to start a three-game series against the Detroit Tigers.
With a 5-14 home record this year, Oakland would love to use its current momentum to start turning the pages on spring and get moving toward a hot, hot summer on the baseball field. The A’s, with their MLB-worst 16-30 record, are 13.5 games out of first place in the American League West, a division they’ve dominated for the past three seasons.
Jesse Hahn (1-4, 4.43 ERA) gets the ball for the home team today, and he will face Detroit’s Shane Greene (4-2, 4.05). The Tigers are 26-19, three games behind the Kansas City Royals in the AL Central—a division they’ve dominated for the past four seasons, winning it from 2011-14.
Detroit, of course, also knocked Oakland out of the 2012 and 2013 AL playoffs with five-game Division Series victories in each postseason. With the fourth-highest payroll in MLB, the Tigers expect—and need—to win. Oakland, with the seventh-lowest payroll in the game, spends about half as much money on its team.
So it’s the big boys versus the little guys, again, at the O.co Coliseum. The Tigers have lost five of their eight, including two in a row, while the A’s have won two in a row albeit losing four of their last seven overall. Oakland also welcomes back second baseman Ben Zobrist to the active roster, fully recovered from a knee injury he suffered last month.
That can do nothing but help the A’s offense, which despite scoring the seventh-most runs in baseball this season, sometimes disappears. Oakland sent down Craig Gentry to make room, whilst keeping Sam Fuld on the roster; that makes no sense, considering Fuld is a career .203 hitter with the A’s in 101 games now—including .195 this season.
Gentry is struggling right now due to a lack of playing time, despite his career .230 average in 131 games with Oakland. Both are good in the field, but you’d think the A’s would want those extra hits on offense. In truth, neither guy is a starting outfielder, and perhaps Mark Canha should be starting every day in left field nowadays. The more offense, the better, because sometimes Oakland turns in some stinkers against really bad pitchers.
In Greene today, the A’s face a guy who started off hot in April and has cooled down a lot since then. He won his first three stats, giving up just one earned run in 23 innings. After that, he’s gave up 20 runs in his next 11 innings. Finally, his last three starts have been more impressive: three runs in 19 1/3 innings.
Which Greene will show up today for Detroit? The A’s are hoping for that middle version, because they’d like a true winning streak of sorts to build upon. In fact, Oakland has not won three straight since August 7-9, 2014: That was when the team sat atop MLB with a 72-44 record and the inside track to a premature World Series coronation.
Oh, what a long, strange trip it’s been since then, and it continues today at 1:05 p.m. at the Coliseum.