Game Preview: A's vs. Angels - June 21, 2004

The A's finish off what has so far been a disappointing roadtrip, as they take on their Southern California rivals in an important four game series. The A's will go with second year starter Rich Harden and the Angels will counter with World Series hero John Lackey in the opener.

Oakland Athletics (38-29) L-2 v. Anaheim Angels (37-31) L-1

Date: June 21, 2004
Time: 7:05 P.S.T.
Place: Angel Stadium – Anaheim, CA

After a frustrating trip to the Midwest, the A's return to sunny California for the next two weeks to face division rival Anaheim Angels and cross-town neighbor San Francisco Giants. Tonight is the beginning of a four-game series in Anaheim where the A's will have to re-awaken their offense and fix their bullpen problems to beat the newly replenished Angels lineup. Although Anaheim has been struggling of late (4-11 in last 15 games), they recently welcomed back slugger Garrett Anderson, first-baseman Darin Erstad, outfielder Tim Salmon, and set-up man Brandon Donnelly.

These two teams know each other very well and have already played two series' this year with Oakland taking two of three in Anaheim and the Angels getting the sweep in Oakland. The key to this series for Oakland is to build big, early leads and have their starting pitching go deep into the ballgame. The starting pitching for the A's has been their strength this year as they have the 3rd best team ERA at 3.58 and their team batting average has ascended to 10th best in the majors at .272, .005 points behind Anaheim. Oakland must try to keep the Rally Monkey quiet as the A's bullpen (ranked 23rd, 4.63 ERA) has struggled lately and Anaheim is known for clutch hitting at home. Anaheim's starting pitching has been below average this year as they rank 23rd in the league in team ERA at 4.99, but their bullpen ranks 6th in the majors with a 3.50 ERA.

Pitching Matchup:
Oakland – Rich Harden, RHP (3-4, 3.95 ERA)
Anaheim – John Lackey, RHP (4-8, 5.51 ERA)

John Lackey: Lackey has been very streaky this year as has lost five of his last seven starts (1-5) following a three-game winning streak. A positive trend for Lackey is that he is going deeper in games lately by averaging seven innings pitched in his last three starts while only walking seven in his last five starts. When he is pitching well he will throw mostly fastballs and locate consistently on the corners of the plate. After his impressive rookie campaign where he went 9-4 with a 3.66 ERA and a Game 7 World Series victory, Lackey was knocked back to earth last year as he went 10-16 while posting a 4.63 ERA. He has pitched much better at home this year as he has a 3.27 ERA in Anaheim but has not received very much run support as he posts a 2-4 home record.

Rich Harden: Harden has been fairly consistent in his last three starts (1-1) but has been getting his pitch count up too high in the early innings as he has only lasted 5.1 innings and 6.1 innings respectively in his last two games. In his last ten starts he has been consistently good in keeping his hits allowed low (5.7 hits per start) and his strikeouts per game high at 5.9 per start (74 total, rank 9th in AL). In three of his last ten starts he has given up two or less runs while receiving a no-decision due to little run support. Harden lost his earlier start against Anaheim as he allowed three earned runs (4 runs total) in 5.2 innings with 6 hits, 2 BB, and a homerun to Tim Salmon.

Pitcher-Batter Matchup:
Harden v.:
Kennedy, A – 4 for 11 – 1 RBI
Salmon, T – 3 for 8 – 1 HR, 4 RBI
Anderson, G – 4 for 7 – 2 BB, 1 K
Guillen, J – 1 for 3 – 1 K
Figgins, C – 2 for 8 – 1 K
Eckstein, D – 2 for 9 – 1 BB
Molina, J – 1 for 4 – 1 RBI, 1 K

Lackey v.:
Hatteberg, S – 5 for 12 – 1 RBI, 3 BB
McLemore, M – 2 for 11 – 2 BB
Dye, J – 2 for 10 – 2 HR, 3 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K
Durazo, E – 2 for 4 – 1 2B, 4 BB
Byrnes, E – 0 for 3 – 1 K
Kielty, B – 1 for 3
Karros, E – 0 for 3 – 1 K
(Editor's Note: A's players that would be nice to have for tonight's game ? Chavez – 7 for 13 – 1 2B, 3 RBI and Ellis – 4 for 11 – 3 2B, 1 RBI, 2 BB)

E-mail comments, questions, criticisms to

Oakland Clubhouse Top Stories