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A’s and Angels — two teams going opposite directions

What a contrast in moods around the A’s and Angels right now. The A’s, expected to struggle this season after trading away so many key players over the winter, played relaxed and loose Monday night. Their 5-0 victory over the Angels was one of their best overall games this season. They’re 19-17 and in second place in the AL West, four games behind the Texas Rangers. The Angels? Considered World Series contenders when the season began, they’re mired in the AL West cellar at 15-21. Albert Pujols is hitting .197, and the boo birds are making themselves heard at Angel Stadium.

Who knows how the rest of this season plays out? The smart money still says the Angels will finish above the A’s in the standings. But it’s really something to watch right now, as the A’s are the team carrying the air of confidence when these clubs take the field.

–Tyson Ross was understandably pleased with his outing — six shutout innings with just five hits allowed. And he’s benefiting from a mechanical adjustment he made. In his windup, Ross said he’s swinging his left leg back more and rotating his body away from the plate more before delivering the ball. “It makes me a tick slower to the plate,” Ross said. “My stuff is a little better, and it’s going to make me a better pitcher overall.” He’s allowed just two runs and one walk in two starts at Angel Stadium this season (12 innings).

–A’s manager Bob Melvin said after the game that he wasn’t sure about the status of Brandon Inge and Kila Ka’aihue for tomorrow’s series finale. He wants to see how both injured players respond in batting practice.

–We’ll have one of the nuttier start times of the season tomorrow with a 4:05 p.m. first pitch. That’s very unusual for a West Coast game. It’s being televised on Comcast SportsNet California as usual …

Joe Stiglich

  • marc

    Joe, what’s thw word on Derek Norris? Recker has been very unimpressive and I would love to see Norris get his shot behind the dish. His offensive numbers are very good. How is Norris’s defense and game calling? Thanks.

  • Stan

    The A’s have a team BA OF .218,and a winning record? How long can that last?

  • Joe Stiglich

    I haven’t seen Norris a whole lot myself except for spring training, but the A’s like this kid a lot. Bob Melvin knew he was a good hitting prospect, but during the spring, he raved that he thought Norris showed great potential defensively as well. And that’s coming from a former catcher himself. Thing is, they probably want him to develop more, and if they bring him up to replace Recker as the backup, he’s not going to play a whole lot. And minor league playing time might be more important right now.

    But he’s one to keep watching. We know the A’s find a way to open up opportunities for young players they make trades for. Perhaps the juicier long-term question is how (or if) Norris’ development might impact whether the A’s hold on to Kurt Suzuki, who is signed through 2013 with a club option for ’14 …

  • Joe Stiglich

    Stan, part of that depends on whether they continue to pitch well. Obviously, when their offense is doing nada, they have to be near-perfect on the mound. Homers help when you’re a low-average team, and while the A’s aren’t mashers, they’re hitting homers at a much better rate than last season. … These guys can steal bases and get in scoring position. But can they find a way to drive runners in?

  • marc

    Thanks for the insight Joe, well said. I’m of the opinion that the A’s bats will begin to heat up and they are not leaving the wildcard race. Iv’e had about enough Suzuki, I wouldn’t pick that option up. His hitting his regressed significantly and his arm is lousy. Go A’s!