Game Preview: A's v. Cardinals - June 16, 2004

The A's dominance over the NL Central ended on Tuesday night, as they dropped the first of a three game set to the Cardinals, 8-4. The A's held a 4-3 lead with one out in the 7th inning before the bullpen allowed the Cardinals to score five runs.

Oakland Athletics (37-24), L-1 vs. St. Louis Cardinals (37-27), W-2

Date: Wednesday, June 16, 2004
First Pitch: 5:10 P.S.T.
Place: Busch Stadium – St. Louis, MO

The recent road woes continue for the A's as they look to tie up the series tonight after seeing their 8-game winning streak come to an end in St. Louis. During the last homestand, the offense was able to mask the some inefficient starting pitching and shaky bullpen work. Both of those problems took centerstage last night as Barry Zito labored through five innings throwing 115 pitches and walking five batters while the bullpen allowed eight consecutive Cardinals to reach base in a 5-run seventh inning, erasing an Oakland one-run lead.
Although the negatives outweighed the positives, there were some encouraging signs for Oakland as they continue on this long road trip. Rookie shortstop Bobby Crosby went a perfect 4 for 4 with one run and two doubles, raising his batting average to an impressive .273. Catcher Damian Miller and center fielder Mark Kotsay both hit two-run homeruns took give Oakland an early 4-3 lead.

Pitching Matchup:
Cardinals – Jason Marquis, RHP (5-4, 4.42 ERA)
Athletics – Rich Harden, RHP (3-3, 3.92 ERA)

Jason Marquis - Marquis missed his last scheduled start last Thursday with back spasms, but he says he feels fine and shouldn't have any problem going tonight. Marquis is 4-1 in his last five starts, however his ERA has risen from 3.44 to 4.42 and he has only averaged 5.2 innings per start. Left-handed hitters are scorching Marquis with a .308 BA and a .394 OBP while knocking in 21 RBI with 5 HR and yielding 16 walks in 120 AB. Marquis is difficult to run on, as only two times all year have base-stealers been successful against him in three tries.

Rich Harden - Harden has continued his pattern of alternating good and bad performances when he followed up a 7 inning, 1 ER performance against Toronto with a 5.1 inning, 5 run (4 ER, the unearned run was the cause of his error) performance against Cincinnatti. Despite his inconsistencies, Harden continues to rack up the strikeouts as he posted 7 and 8 in his last two starts respectively to give him 67 on the year (9th best in the AL). When pitching to left-handed hitters, Harden has allowed 7 stolen bases, while he has given up only 1 when facing right-handed hitters.

Pitcher v. Batter Matchups:
Harden v.: Anderson, M. – 2 for 5 – 1 2B
Marquis v.: Kotsay, M – 2 for 6 – 2 2B, 2 RBI, 1 K
Hatteberg, S – 1 for 4 – 1 RBI
Miller, D – 2 for 4 – 1 2B, 1 K
Karros, E – 0 for 2 – 2 K
Durazo, E – 0 for 0 – 1 RBI

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