Game Preview: A's vs. Cubs - June 18, 2004

The A's are coming off a heart-wrenching sweep at the hands of the Cardinals, as the A's bullpen implodes yet again. The opponent may be the Cubs, but the biggest question for the A's this weekend won't be if they can score off of Clement, Prior and Zambrano but if their bullpen can ever hold another lead again.

Oakland Athletics (37-27) L-3 v. Chicago Cubs (37-29) W-6

Date: June 18, 2004
First Pitch: 12:20 P.S.T.
Place: Wrigley Field – Chicago, IL

Preview:
The A's are looking to turn around their road trip as they come into Wrigley Field reeling from another bullpen meltdown as they dropped yesterday's game to St. Louis 5-4. It will be no easy feat as the Chicago Cubs have won six straight ballgames and the A's have no answers in the bullpen. The Cubs are no longer the lovable losers as they have built one of the best pitching staffs in the league and feature sluggers Derek Lee and Moises Alou to surround superstar, Sammy Sosa. The A's will need their offense to hit another hot streak as they will have to face Matt Clement (7-4, 3.15 ERA), Mark Prior (1-1, 3.07 ERA), and Carlos Zambrano (7-2, 2.32 ERA). The Cubs have been playing great baseball lately as they recently took two of three in Anaheim and swept the Astros in a four-game set in Houston. They have enjoyed the return of Prior to the rotation and will nearly be at full-stregth with Sosa returning this weekend from the disabled list.

Pitching Matchup:
Oakland – Mark Redman, LHP (4-3, 4.52 ERA)
Chicago – Matt Clement, RHP (7-4, 3.15 ERA)

Comments:
Matt Clement – Clement is 2-1 in his last five starts with his ERA jumping slightly from 2.69 to 3.15 during that span. Much like Tim Hudson, Clement gets mostly groundball outs with his sinking fastball and hard slider when he is pitching well. He ranks 4th in the National League in strikeouts with 90 and 6th in opponents' batting average at .213. At home this year, Clement is 6-2 with a 2.53 ERA in eight starts and has averaged a little over seven innings pitched. He has only given up six homeruns on the year, so the A's must be patient and try to manufacture runs.

Mark Redman – Redman is also 2-1 in his last five starts, but his ERA has raised nearly a point in that span from 3.60 to 4.52. His most recent outing against Pittsburgh was a disaster as he yielded seven runs in five innings, including a grand slam, three walks, and nine hits. A main concern for Oakland heading into this game is that Redman has only averaged 5.1 innings pitched in his last five starts, and the bullpen is currently in-experienced and tired. This is a big opportunity for Redman to come up big for Oakland as the A's need him to help create some momentum on this road trip by pitching a long, solid game.

Pitcher v. Batter Matchup:
Redman v.:
Macias, J – 1 for 7 – 1 2B, 1 K
Ramirez, A – 1 for 5 - 1 K, 1 BB
Barrett, M – 1 for 4 – 2 K
Sosa, S – 1 for 3 – 1 K
Alou, M – 0 for 3
Lee, D – 1 for 3
Clement, M – 0 for 2

Clement v.:
Kotsay, M – 5 for 25 – 1 2B, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 3 K
Miller, D – 5 for 17 – 1 2B, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 5 K
Karros, E – 1 for 12 – 3 BB, 3 K
Durazo, E – 1 for 8 – 3 BB, 2 K
McLemore, M – 1 for 8 – 5 K
Redman, M – 0 for 3 – 2 K
Melhuse, A – 1 for 3 – 1 2B, 1 K

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