AN IMPORTANT JUNE STRETCH FACES BOTH THE GIANTS AND ATHLETICS
By Mike Baca
JOSH DONALDSON IS HITTING .330 WITH 8 HOME RUNS AND 33 RBI'S TO LEAD THE SURGING ATHLETICS
The game of baseball is easy right now for the Oakland A's. We all know baseball is not easy, but the A's seem to be effortlessly disposing of the competition in near methodical fashion. Last night's 6-3 win over the San Francisco Giants was another win, in a series of victories that has pulled the A's within 2.5 games of first place Texas.
Winners of five in a row and 10 of their last 11, Oakland is riding the hot-bat of third baseman Josh Donaldson. Considered a throw-in in the Rich Harden trade to the Cubs a few years ago, Donaldson is making a bid to be an American League All-Star this season. The A's bullpen has been nails. Sean Doolittle is carving up hitters from the left side, while Ryan Cook sets them up and knocks them down from the right side. The enigmatic Grant Balfour has been closing the door enthusiastically in the ninth giving the A's reliability and efficiency out of their pen.
Oakland is riding high, and there is no indication that this Athletics team will fade or won't be applying pressure to Texas all season long.
Its a different story for the Giants. While their M.O. has been the come-from-behind win it is now starting to catch up with them. San Francisco's ever-fluctuating offensive production is compounded by a lack of consistency from their starting rotation. Matt Cain still has an earned run average above 5 despite pitching better of late. Barry Zito is great one week, bad the next. Tim Lincecum is a slot machine. His strikeouts are up, but so is his change-up most of the time. Madison Bumgarner has been Giants best, but is suffering from a lack of run support in his starts. With Ryan Vogelsong nursing a broken finger, the Giants are having to turn to their farm system, which could help them long-term just to find out what they have.
The bullpen has been hurt by the loss of Santiago Casilla as Sergio Romo's set up man. But, Bruce Bochy is piecing it together as he always does.
MARCO SCUTARO LEADS A GIANTS OFFENSE THAT LEADS THE NATIONAL LEAGUE IN HITTING
The Giants just need to to survive this rough patch. Their pitching staff ranks 10th in the National League while they have the best batting average of any team in the NL. Which is the aberration ? That will likely determine whether the World Champions are here for the long haul in 2013 or whether a June swoon is on the horizon.
The Giants and A's will battle at AT & T tonight at 7:15pm