A few pregame tidbits as the A’s finish what must feel like a very loooong first half …
–After his big homer last night, Rajai Davis gets a start in right field. Extended punishment for Ryan Sweeney for not running out a pop-up? Bob Geren wouldn’t say that. He said he wanted to get as many right-handed bats as possible in the lineup against Tampa Bay right-hander James Shields. Righties actually fare better against Shields and his nasty change-up than lefties (rh’s hitting .280 compared to .262 for lh’s). Nomar Garciaparra gets a start at first base, with switch-hitting Landon Powell catching. Kurt Suzuki is the DH. Jack Cust, who struck out four times last night, sits as he’s 2-for-15 against Shields.
–Geren had planned to play Garciaparra at first today over Giambi all along, but Geren said Giambi should be available to pinch-hit with his bruised right elbow.
–With the A’s coming out of the All-Star break with 28 straight games, Geren said Powell will have to spell Suzuki more often, and he wanted to squeeze in a start for him before the break so he wasn’t too rusty when the A’s return to the field.
–Someone who deserved mention from last night’s game — reliever Michael Wuertz. He struck out the side in his one inning of work and has 20 strikeouts in his past 10 2/3 innings (8 games). His 50 strikeouts are tied for second among AL relievers. The league leader, of course, is his All-Star teammate, Andrew Bailey (59).
–Geren listed his rotation coming out of the break. Dallas Braden will start the opener of a four-game home series against the Angels on Thursday. He’ll be followed by Trevor Cahill, Vin Mazzaro, Brett Anderson and Gio Gonzalez. Geren said he wanted to try to maximize the rest for his young starters. Braden is going on regular four days’ rest, but Geren said that’s OK because the lefty just had a 10-day layoff.