Take a glance at the AL West standings, and you wonder where the A’s might be if they can just put a sustained hot streak together. No one in the division is playing great baseball yet. The Angels will be without Kendrys Morales for the rest of the season, and another of their best hitters, Vernon Wells, is on the DL with a groin injury. The Texas Rangers are without outfielders Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz, but both could return soon. You figure Texas will be a better team in a month or so than they are right now, simply because they’ll be healthier.
Now is the time for the A’s to make a move. They haven’t put together a win streak of more than three games, and they haven’t won more than two in a row for nearly a month. They’ve got their ace going today in Trevor Cahill (6-0), who’s trying to become the first A’s starter to win his first seven decisions since Dave Stewart went 8-0 in 1988. And the A’s welcome the Angels for a two-game set starting Monday, so there’s a chance to get something going …
A’s – Crisp CF, Barton 1B, Jackson RF, Willingham LF, Suzuki DH, LaRoche 3B, Ellis 2B, Powell C, Pennington SS; Cahill RHP.
White Sox – Pierre LF, Ramirez SS, Dunn 1B, Konerko DH, Quentin RF, Pierzynski C, Rios CF, Vizquel 3B, Beckham 2B; Buehrle LHP.
–Hideki Matsui is out of the lineup for the fourth time in the past six games (can’t count Wednesday’s rainout, when he did start). I think it’s safe to say no one expected Matsui to be sitting the bench this much when he signed with the A’s. Kurt Suzuki is the DH today, and A’s manager Bob Geren explained that he wanted to keep Suzuki’s bat in the lineup while getting Landon Powell a start at catcher (Suzuki is 8 for 21 against White Sox starter Mark Buehrle). Geren, looking ahead to the right-handers the A’s will face coming up, said Matsui will get back in there on a more regular basis.
But Geren also was asked if he envisioned Matsui drawing any outfield starts when the A’s play interleague games in National League parks. “We’ll see how the next few games go, but more than likely not,” Geren said. Perhaps Geren was only referring to next weekend’s Giants series. The A’s won’t play in NL stadiums again until a six-game stretch from June 21-26, and if Matsui starts hitting, I’d expect him to get some outfield time then. But bottom line is, right now it’s no given that Matsui will be in the A’s lineup on any given day, and that’s not something we would have thought back in spring training …