Oakland Athletics manager Bob Geren thinks his young pitching staff is starting to figure things out.
As they search for a season-high fourth straight win, the A’s will look to keep the Baltimore Orioles’ hitters befuddled Friday night in the opener of a three-game home series.
Oakland (22-30) is coming off an eight-game road trip which ended with three consecutive victories over the Chicago White Sox, including Thursday’s 7-0 win. Brett Anderson(notes) pitched seven innings, and Michael Wuertz(notes) and Santiago Casilla(notes) allowed one hit over the final two as the A’s blanked Chicago for the second time in three games - their only two shutouts this season.
Since allowing a season-high 14 runs May 30 in Texas, the A’s have a 2.45 ERA over their last five games after recording a 4.54 ERA through their first 47.
“I think all of them are getting on a roll together, which is what we envisioned,” said Geren, who has 10 pitchers less than 30 years old and five starters 25 or younger.
Oakland allowed 10 earned runs in five wins over Baltimore last season - its second season sweep in five years. In the first matchup this season, the A’s will start Dallas Braden(notes) (4-5, 3.63 ERA), who yielded one earned run in winning both of his appearances against the Orioles last year.
Of Braden’s 10 career victories, three have come against the Orioles, and he is 3-1 with a 1.33 ERA in four all-time meetings.
After throwing six scoreless innings Sunday in Texas, the left-hander cut his thumb on a medical kit in the dugout before the seventh and exited after giving up two hits to begin the inning. He was charged with two runs and recorded his third straight quality start but did not get a decision in the 5-4 win.
Braden’s thumb is not expected to cause any problems Friday.
Oakland’s offense, last in the AL in batting average (.239) and slugging percentage (.369), took advantage of its eight hits Thursday to score seven runs for the first time since May 23. The A’s have homered in a season-high six straight games and Jason Giambi(notes) has done so in the last two.
There seems to be a good chance both of those streaks could continue Friday with Jeremy Guthrie(notes) (4-4, 4.86) starting for Baltimore. He’s allowed 13 homers this season, second-most in the AL, and Giambi has hit two in nine career at-bats against him.
Guthrie, though, is 1-0 with a 2.77 ERA in his last two outings overall and 1-1 with a 2.55 ERA in three career starts versus the A’s.
He’ll try to help the Orioles (24-30) avoid a third straight loss and fifth in six games following a season-high five-game win streak.
Despite Luke Scott’s(notes) hot hitting, Baltimore has batted .217 during a 1-4 stretch while being outscored 20-8. In Wednesday night’s 3-2 loss in Seattle, Scott homered for the seventh time in his eight games since returning from a strained left shoulder.
“He’s having quality at-bats,” manager Dave Trembley told the team’s official Web site. “We just need to kind of spread that around to the other guys in the lineup.”
Scott, who has batted .393 (11 for 28) with 17 RBIs since coming off the disabled list, has hit .231 (3 for 13) with no home runs and two RBIs in six career games against the A’s.