The Oakland A's have been one of the best teams in baseball when it comes to interleague play, so heading to Cincinnati for two games against the Reds could be refreshing for the team that's lost four of five.
Since scoring nine runs to open the series against Toronto on July 29, the A's offense has gone flat, hitting at a paltry .211/.264/.259 clip and getting shut out twice in five games. Their lead in the division has fallen from five games to two games.
Losing two consecutive home series isn't something Oakland hadn't done this season until last week, which is a scary thought for a team heading down the stretch of the season clinging to a division lead. After notching a season-worst 647 OPS in July, the offense has opened August with just a 584 mark. Newcomer Alberto Callaspo, brought in supplement the infield, is hitless in his first 10 at-bats for his new club.
The A's only play two teams with records worse than .500 this month. Those exceptions are four games against the Blue Jays immediately following the trip to Cincinnati, followed by three back in Oakland against the Astros, which could be just what the doctor ordered following a tough stretch.
Luckily for the A's, the Reds enter the series losers of seven of nine and looking to regain their footing as they race for the playoffs. They're coming off an ugly series where they hosted the Cardinals, losing games 13-3 and 15-2. But they get a chance to rebound by throwing their two best starters against the A's.
The series opens up Tuesday afternoon with Dan Straily (6-5, 4.41 ERA) going against Matt Latos (10-3, 3.37 ERA). Straily has been outstanding in his three starts against National League teams, allowing just two runs in 19.1 innings. But he the right-hander has also lost his last three starts and hasn't gotten out of the fifth inning in his last two.
Since allowing six runs to the Braves on July 11, Latos has a 2.41 ERA in his last three starts against the Pirates, Dodgers and Padres. The A's are likely to employ their left-handed heavy lineup, as lefties have a 775 OPS against Latos on the year while righties have notched a 638 mark. Making his home park at the home-run happy Great American Ballpark, Latos has been slightly worse than on the road. He's allowed seven homers at home to four elsewhere.
Wednesday's 9:30 a.m. Pacific affair will feature Homer Bailey (6-10, 3.55 ERA) and Bartolo Colon (14-3, 2.50 ERA). Since no-hitting the Giants, Bailey has struggled in five starts, allowing a .303/.343/.439 slash line. However, he's limited the runs scored against him and has a 3.51 ERA over the same stretch. Given the way the A's offense has played in get-away days – paired with the early morning start on their body clocks – Oakland might be a good team to face in its current state.
Now that Colon's name has been cleared from any potential suspension from the Biogenesis scandal, he can breath easy and look for a strong finish to a stellar season. The portly right-hander hasn't allowed more than two earned runs since June 21 and has a 1.64 ERA since. Hitters are reaching base at a minuscule .288 clip against him over the span.