Game Preview: A's v. Pirates - June 13, 2004

The A's look for their eighth straight victory, as they take on the Pirates on Sunday. A's ace Mark Mulder takes the hill against the tough righthander Kip Wells.

Pittsburgh (24-34) vs. Oakland (36-24)

Date: June 13, 2004
Time: 1:05 P.S.T.
Location: Network Associates Coliseum
Special Note: It is Carney Lansford bobblehead day, so plan to arrive early. The parking lot opens at 8:30 am and the gates open at 10:30 am.

The red-hot A's have a number of streaks on the line, as they take on the Pittsburgh Pirates in the last of a three-game set. Oakland has a seven game winning streak, and four A's players are sporting hitting streaks of six or more games (Scott Hatteberg - 13, Marco Scutaro - 9, Bobby Crosby - 8 and Mark McLemore - 6). In addition, the A's have now scored six or more runs in each of their last 6 games and in four of those games, they scored in double-digits. The Pirates are fighting a streak of their own, as they have now dropped seven consecutive decisions.
Tensions were running high between the two teams, who are meeting for only the second time in franchise history. In Friday night's game, five batters were hit and warnings were issued. On Saturday, the beanings continued as the Pirates responded to the plunking of Jason Kendall by throwing two pitches behind Damian Miller. The pitches resulted in the ejections of both Soloman Torres and manager Lloyd McClendon. The ejection of Torres proved to be costly, as he was relieved by Jose Mesa, who proceeded to allow 5 runs in the bottom of the eighth inning.
The A's had relief issues of their own, as their bullpen followed a shaky start by Mark Redman by allowing 4 runs in as many innings. Closer Arthur Rhodes blew his league-leading fifth save by allowing a solo homerun to Ruben Mateo to lead-off the 9th inning. He then allowed a double, but settled down to retire the Pirates without further damage. The A's were able to pick-up their erstwhile closer when they scored the game winning run on Jermaine Dye's walk-off, basesloaded single. The A's clinched the series win against the Pirates and moved to 17-0 all-time against the NL Central division. The A's haven't dropped a home series since they dropped two of three to New York during the first week of May.

Pitching Match-ups
Pittsburgh: Kip Wells (3-4, 4.52 ERA)
Oakland: Mark Mulder (7-2, 2.93 ERA)

The A's Mark Mulder looks to add an 8th win to his total on Sunday. He is coming off of a strong 7-inning performance against the Cincinnati Reds, where he limited the Reds to two runs. Mulder has been the beneficiary of a healthy amount of run support lately, as he has been on the mound during A's victories over Boston and Cincinnati where the A's pounded out 15 and 13 runs respectively. Mulder hasn't had a losing decision on his record since April 28 against the New York Yankees. He followed that performance with a poor showing against the same Yankee team, when he earned a no-decision by allowing 6 runs and blowing an 8-3 lead. Since that time, however, Mulder has seen his ERA drop from a high-water mark of 4.12 to 2.93 and his record has risen from 2-2 to 7-2. Mulder has been consistent on the road and at home, posting 2.94 and 2.92 ERAs, respectively. He has fared better against righties (.221 BAA) then lefties (.254 BAA) and has stayed true to his history of performing better in day games then night games. Mulder, not surprisingly, has not seen much of the Pirates' hitters over his career. Ruben Mateo is 2-4 against the A's lefty and Jason Kendall and Chris Stynes are each 1-3.

Pirates righthander Kip Wells has been fairly solid for the Bucs this season. However, he was roughed up by Texas in his last start, allowing five runs in just four innings. Wells has a live arm and has struck-out 62 batters in only 67.2 innings pitched. He is a groundball pitcher, but has still allowed 8 homeruns so far this season. He has also walked 39 batters this season and has had his roughest starts when he walks five or more batters. Wells is a former White Sox who came over to Pittsburgh in the Todd Ritchie deal before the 2002 season. Wells has been one of the best young pitchers in the National League over the past two years, posting ERAs of 3.59 and 3.28 in 2002 and 2003, respectively. Wells has been the victim of poor run support, however, and racked up a record of only 22-23 during that time. Lefties hit Wells at a much better clip then righties, so look to see a lefty-heavy line-up for the A's tomrrow. Scott Hatteberg is 4-4 lifetime against Wells and Mark Kotsay is 3-7. Damian Miller is only 1-10 lifetime, so Adam Melhuse may get the call to catch tomorrow, especially since Miller has started the last several games in a row.

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