A’s aiming for .500 on interleague road trip

It’s game six of the A’s six-game interleague road trip. If they finish this journey 3-3, it would be quite an accomplishment considering they would have beaten Cole Hamels and Roy Halladay in doing so.

–There’s nothing particularly essential to report from the A’s pregame scene. Pretty standard lineup, other than Landon Powell starting behind the plate in place of Kurt Suzuki. That’s the typical day-game-after-night-game scenario, and Oakland manager Bob Melvin pointed out that Suzuki has caught some long games in hot weather on this trip. But I’d expect to continue seeing more of Powell, especially if Suzuki continues to struggle at the plate. “I’m staying pretty consistent with the fact that I want to get him involved,” Melvin said of Powell. “He’s done a nice job.” Melvin did praise Suzuki on Saturday for calling a good game for Trevor Cahill.

–Grant Balfour is still bothered by a sore right oblique, and Melvin was assuming he wouldn’t be available today. He’ll also try to stay away from Brian Fuentes, who has either pitched, or warmed up to pitch, often over the past several days. Melvin has come to Fuentes’ defense this weekend, saying he didn’t fault him for giving up a chopper that went for the game-winning hit for the Phillies on Friday, and adding that Fuentes has been flexible and agreeable to whatever role he’s been asked to fill.

The lineups:

A’s – Weeks 2B, Pennignton SS, Crisp CF, Matsui LF, Jackson 1B, Sweeney RF, Sizemore 3B, Powell C, Outman LHP.

Phillies – Rollins SS, Polanco 3B, Victorino CF, Howard 1B, Francisco RF, Ruiz C, Ibanez LF, Valdez 2B, Halladay RHP.

–It’s been a good few days in Philadelphia, an out-of-the-ordinary stop for us on the road trip circuit. The cheesesteak at Pat’s King of Steaks was excellent. I give it a slight edge over Geno’s, the other landmark cheesesteak establishment located right across the street from Pat’s. I tried Geno’s on a non-baseball trip to Philadelphia a few years ago. You can’t go wrong trying either one. But Pat’s is a little grittier, the service is very no-nonsense, bordering on bossy. Somehow that adds to the authenticity of the experience, if that makes any sense.

I was told that the Courtyard by Marriott where I stayed was used for filming scenes for “The Sixth Sense” and “Twelve Monkeys.” That information came from a cabbie, who was a handy tour guide when he wasn’t spewing obscenities at the “crazy drivers” all around him.

And if you get to Philadelphia, you have to stroll through the Italian Market, where Rocky went for his epic jog while training for his second fight against Apollo Creed. This is the second “Rocky II” clip I’ve provided on this blog. Obviously, this movie has affected me deeply …