Game Preview: A's vs. Giants - June 26, 2004

The A's are looking to rebound against the Giants after dropping the first game of their three game series, 6-4. The A's were victimized by bad defense and the long ball in their losing effort. New closer Octavio Dotel should be with the A's in time for this evening's game.

San Francisco Giants (42-32) W-7 v. Oakland Athletics (40-32) L-1

Date: Saturday - June 26, 2004
Time: 6:05 P.S.T.
Place: Network Associates Coliseum – Oakland, CA

Preview: The A's were unable to overcome a shaky first inning, as they fell to the Giants 6-4 in the series opener. Over 48,000 people witnessed a nightmare first inning for A's starter Barry Zito, who should have been out of the inning after three batters. With a runner on first and one-out, Marquis Grissom rolled a groundball right back to Zito. Barry turned and fired to second, but Marco Scutaro and Bobby Crosby had a miscommunication about who was supposed to cover the bag and everyone was safe. Zito pitched around the other Barry and appeared to be on his way to limiting the damage to one-run, when he got Edgardo Alfonzo to hit a sacrifice fly. However, Zito hung a breaking ball to Deivi Cruz, who hit his first homerun of the season, making it 4-0. Pedro Feliz followed with a solo shot, and the A's were suddenly looking at a 5-0 first inning hole against the National League's best pitcher. The A's and Zito actually settled down after that and played a nice game. Zito went seven, giving up only one additional run (and finishing the night with 1 ER in 7 innings). The A's worked Jason Schmidt all game, until they finally got to him for two runs on a towering homerun by Bobby Crosby in the 7th. The Justin brothers – Duchscherer and Lehr – did a nice job in the 8th and 9th innings, allowing no runs and one hit. The A's then made the game interesting in the 9th inning. Mark Kotsay lead off the inning by drawing a walk. Jermaine Dye then followed with a smash to left that Dustan Mohr made a sensational catch on. Mohr appeared to injure his shoulder on the play, but he toughed it out and finished the inning. Scott Hatteberg then followed Dye's out with a long two-run homerun, chasing Schmidt. Scott Eyre relieved Schmidt and gave up a double to Erubiel Durazo. Giants Manager Felipe Alou wasted no time going to his closer, Matt Herges. Herges allowed a single to Crosby, but got Damian Miller to ground into a 6-4-3 doubleplay to end the inning.

The A's will look to carry the momentum they gained from their last few innings into Saturday night's game. Rich Harden will take the hill against Kirk Reuter. It will be the 15th anniversary of the A's sweep of the Giants in the 1989 World Series. A's players from that team will be on hand for the celebration and highlights from the 1989 season will play throughout the game. The game will be followed by a fireworks show. Crowds of over 50,000 are expected, so public transportation might be the best way to get to the Coliseum.

Pitching Match-up:

San Francisco – Kirk Reuter, LHP (3-6, 4.75 ERA)
Oakland – Rich Harden, RHP (3-5, 4.25 ERA)


Kirk Reuter: The 33 year-old left-hander is 1-1 in his last 3 starts and is starting to show some positive signs after a very slow start. Reuter had to wait until his seventh start of the year to pick up his first win and was posting a 7.06 ERA at the time. He finally got his ERA under 5 with two impressive, back-to-back performances against Toronto and Los Angeles. A common pattern for Reuter when he is pitching well is that he gets a lot more groundball outs as opposed to fly-ball outs. He has pitched better on the road this year as he has a 4.46 ERA and a 2-2 record away from SBC Park in seven starts. Right-handed hitters are hitting .331 against him this year while left-handers are only hitting .244.

Rich Harden: His last start against Anaheim did not go so well as he gave up 5 runs in 5.1 innings while giving up 8 hits and walking two. It was his second consecutive loss following his win against Cincinnati where he allowed 5 runs (4 earned) in only 5.1 innings. The pattern with Harden lately is that he has started very strong but tends to really get into trouble around the fourth and fifth innings. Although there has been talk of making him the closer this year, acquiring Dotel should get Harden back to concentrating on what he needs to do to become a complete starter. Harden has pitched better at home than on the road this year as he has a 2-2 record with a 4.06 ERA in Oakland.

Pitcher-Batter Match-up:

Harden v.:
Tucker, M – 0 for 3 – 1 K
Cruz, D – 1 for 2

Reuter v.:
Kotsay, M – 9 for 27 (.333) – 1 2B, 1 RBI
Dye, J – 3 for 7 – 1 HR, 2 RBI
Durazo, E – 0 for 1 – 1 BB, 1 K
Karros, E – 15 for 48 (.313) – 2 2B, 3 HR, 12 RBI, 6 BB
Miller, D – 9 for 31 (.290) – 6 2B, 1 HR, 7 RBI, 7 K
McLemore, M – 1 for 5 – 2 K
Byrnes, E – 2 for 3

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