If it seems like the St. Louis Cardinals haven’t played the Oakland A’s in a while, that’s because they haven’t.
The last time was in June 2010, as a matter of fact — a three-game series at Busch Stadium where the Cardinals won two of three. Oh, and Jeff Suppan started the game they lost (although Blake Hawksworth was the losing pitcher) and such Cardinals as Felipe Lopez, Randy Winn and Nick Stavinoha all played.
(On a more positive note, the wins in that series came from Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright.)
To help get us all up to speed on the 2013 team, here are three things to know about the Oakland Athletics from Tamara Davis of The Oaktown Breakdown, the Aerys A’s site.
1. Coming into Friday, the A’s have a 46-34 record and are currently second in the AL West, just half a game behind the Texas Rangers. They have a 14-10 record for the month of June and are 5-5 over their last 10 games. After sweeping the two-game series against the Cincinnati Reds this week, they are now 7-2 in interleague games this season, also taking three out of four from the San Francisco Giants and two out of three from the Milwaukee Brewers.
2. The A’s and Cardinals last faced each other in 2010, and since then the A’s have done a major rebuild. Adam Rosales is the only player on the current 25-man roster who played in the series when these two teams last saw each other. There is also a good chance Rosales will not see much action this weekend with three right-handed pitchers starting for the Cardinals, but he currently holds a .195/.272/.333 slash line with a .605 OPS over 140 plate appearances.
3. Bartolo Colon will be pitching for the A’s in the first game of the series and has been the most consistent pitcher for the team thus far. He is 7-0 over his last seven starts and during that stretch he has a 1.41 ERA, a .288 BABIP, has walked 10, struck out 29 and allowed one home run over 51 innings.
The bullpen had its troubles during last week’s road trip, but closer Grant Balfour has been pretty consistent this year, converting all 18 of his save opportunities. He has allowed 7 runs over 31 innings (good for a 2.03 ERA), while striking out 32, but walking 12. He currently sits on a streak of 36 consecutive saves, blowing his last save on April 25th of last season.
The A’s two best hitters this season would be third baseman Josh Donaldson and shortstop/second baseman Jed Lowrie. After hitting a bit of a slump in June, Donaldson has started to heat up again. Over his last 10 games, he has a .333/.405/.611 slash line with a 1.016 OPS and three home runs over 42 plate appearances. Jed Lowrie has not hit for power this season, but has combined for a .306/.378/.420 slash line with a .799 OPS, with 21 doubles over 326 plate appearances this season.
So two very good teams who have been struggling lately matching up for three games — this will be interesting!
As Tamara mentioned, Bartolo Colon gets the start for the A’s tonight and will be opposed by Shelby Miller. It’s more late-night baseball too — game time is 9:05 p.m. Central. And it’s the only late game of the series — both Saturday and Sundays games start at 3:05 p.m. Central.
Christine Coleman is the senior St. Louis Cardinals reporter for Aaron Miles’ Fastball. Follow her on Twitter, @CColeman802, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Also follow @AMilesFastball for the latest updates.