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Weird finish to April for A’s, offense still needs to pick it up

In for Joe Stiglich today, who picked the right day to be off …

This game wasn’t exactly over from the start, but it sure seemed like it the way Brett Anderson was pitching. You could sense he didn’t have it early on, as he walked three batters in the first two innings after surrendering just four in his first 34 2/3 innings over five starts. Anderson couldn’t find his breaking ball and consequently had to try to locate his fastball, which didn’t work so well. Michael Young, Nelson Cruz and Mike Napoli all smacked impressive home runs, impressive all the more considering Anderson hadn’t given a long ball all year before Saturday.

It was a thud of an April ending for the A’s starting staff, which came into the final day of the month leading the majors in ERA at 2.47 with just eight home runs allowed. In short, these guys have been great, particularly the new Big Three of Trevor Cahill, Anderson and Gio Gonzalez. But good pitchers have bad days from time to time, and hopefully, this was just a blip on Anderson’s season radar screen.

If the A’s starters falter, this team is in trouble, because the club is offering precious little else to get excited about. The offense came into the game hitting .237 with just 11 home runs. The defense had committed an AL leading 27 errors. Those two areas have to get better.

That said, the A’s got through April just one game under .500 despite the defense, offense, the absence of Bailey and the fact that they played 16 of their 27 games on the road. It could be a lot worse. In May, they’ll play 17 of their 30 games at home and 7 of those 13 road games are close — three in SF, four in Anaheim.

Coco Crisp looked decent running the bases before the game, and I asked him afterward if he was ready to play. Albeit sullenly, he said yes. “Whatever they say, I’ll go along with the program,” Crisp said.

Mark Ellis scratched with a minor bug Saturday — maybe it’s .191-itis — but expected to be back in the lineup Sunday.

Gio Gonzalez on the hill today to try and restore order for the rotation.

Carl Steward