Game Preview: A's v. Cardinals - June 15, 2004

The Oakland A's meet up with a few old friends when they play the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium. The A's will see former Manager Tony LaRussa and former pitching coach Dave Duncan for the first time during the regular season since the pair left the club in the mid-90s.

Oakland Athletics (37-24), W-8 vs. St. Louis Cardinals (36-27), W-1

Date: Tuesday, June 15, 2004
First Pitch: 5:10 P.S.T.
Place: Busch Stadium – St. Louis, MO

Preview
What is going to happen next? This seems to be the common theme for Oakland this year as they have experienced a strong start (7-3), a tough stretch (7-13), an impressive run (11-2), a forgettable road trip (1-5), and now an incredible homestand (11-1). They have soared into first place and even gave themselves a small margin for error by taking a 2 1/2 game lead over Texas and Anaheim heading into this tough, 10-game road trip against St. Louis (36-27, 1st place NL Central), the Cubs (33-29, 2 1/2 GB) and Anaheim (20-14 at home).

The first game of the trip will feature Barry Zito against the Cardinals' ace, Matt Morris. The Cardinals have had their own impressive stretch by winning 10 of their last 14 games, which also propelled them into first place. St. Louis has an intimidating lineup with pesky hitters, Tony Womack (.294 BA, 13 SB) and Ray Lankford (.359 OBP), surrounding the four main sluggers - Scott Rolen (17 HR), Albert Pujols (17 HR), Jim Edmonds (13 HR), and Reggie Sanders (11 HR). Until their recent hot streak, the Cardinals had been playing .500 baseball as their pitching staff ranks in the middle of most pitching categories while their offense is in the top five in every important hitting category except for team batting average (.271, 11th). Perhaps the most surprising statistic the Cardinals have produced is their league leading 23-12 road record.

While St. Louis has been an unusually difficult place to play for the Cardinals (13-15 home record), it also seems to be the place where former A's players and coaches go to end their careers. In the recent past, the A's have seen players such as Mark McGwire, Dennis Eckersley, and Carney Lansford retire as a Cardinal while current players and coaches with A's ties include manager Tony LaRussa, pitching coach Dave Duncan, closer Jason Isringhausen, first baseman John Mabry, and even trainer Barry Weinberg.

Pitching Matchup
Cardinals – Matt Morris, RHP (6-5, 4.06 ERA)
Athletics – Barry Zito, LHP (4-3, 4.74 ERA)

Comments
Morris is 2-2 in his last four starts giving up 14 ER in 25.1 IP with 16 K, 10 BB, and his ERA has risen from 3.86 to 4.06… Zito is 2-0 in his last five starts and his ERA has dropped 1.25 points… In Morris' last start against the Cubs, he gave up 4 ER and 8 hits but only went 5 innings and picked up the win in a 12-4 blowout… In Zito's last start against Cincinnati, he lasted only 5 innings and nearly blew an early 5-1 lead by giving up 5 ER in the first 4 innings and 2 HR as the A's outslugged the Reds 10-6… At home this year, Morris is 3-2 in six starts with a 4.04 ERA and a .237 opponents BA…On the road, Zito is 3-1 in six starts with a 4.03 ERA and a .268 opponents BA… St. Louis hitters who hit left-handed pitchers well: Edgar Renteria (.375 in 48 AB), Albert Pujols (.385 in 39 AB), Jim Edmonds (.300 in 50 AB, 10 2B, 12 RBI), and .271 as a team…

Pitcher v. Batter Matchups:
Zito v.: Cedeno. R. – 1 for 4 – 1 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K
Sanders, R. – 1 for 3 – 1 2B, 1 K
Anderson, M. – 2 for 3 – 1 2B, 1 RBI

Morris v.: Kotsay, M. – 1 for 14 – 1 BB, 1 K
Karros, E. – 2 for 10 – 2 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K
Miller, D. – 0 for 6 – 3 K
Durazo, E. – 0 for 4, 2 K
Dye, J. – 2 for 3 – 1 RBI

Who's Hot
(Editor's Note: This list would be way too long if I listed every player who is hot coming into this series, so the following players will be the hottest of the hot for your reading convenience.)
St. Louis:
Tony Womack, 2B – 10 for 28 (.357) – 6 runs, 4 2B, 2 RBI
Scott Rolen, 3B – 9 for 23 (.391) – 4 HR, 10 RBI, 5 BB, 2 2B, 6 runs
John Mabry, 1B – 8 for 22 (.364) – 3 HR, 10 RBI, 4 BB, 7 K
Jim Edmonds, CF – 7 for 22 (.318) – 2 HR, 5 RBI, 5 BB, 5 K, 3 2B
Jason Isringhausen, CP – Since May 20 - 1 ER, 8.2 IP, 6 Saves, 1-0 Record, 8 K, 0 HR, 5 Hits

Oakland:
A's team: 94 for 228 (.412) – 71 runs, 21 2B, 13 HR, 34 BB, 36 K, .684 SLG
Mark Kotsay, CF – 13 for 25 (.520) – 8 runs, 2 2B, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 3 BB, 1 SB
Erubiel Durazo, DH – 10 for 19 (.526) – 9 runs, 2 2B, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 3 BB
Scott Hatteberg, 1B – 10 for 20 (.500) – 9 runs, 1 2B, 2 HR, 11 RBI (18 RBI in June)
Eric Byrnes, LF – 9 for 26 (.346) – 8 runs, 3 HR, 5 RBI, 2 SB, and has established himself as the most exciting pinch-runner in baseball
Tim Hudson, SP – Last 3 starts – 3 ER in 24 IP (1.12 ERA), 2-0 Record, 13 K, 46 groundball outs/15 flyball outs, 4 BB, 24 Hits
Other Notables – Jermaine Dye (.440), Marco Scutaro (.407), Bobby Crosby (.391) Damian Miller (.368) 16 RBI in June, Mark McLemore (.357)

Who's Cold:
St. Louis:
Ray Lankford, LF – 2 for 12 (.167) – 1 HR, 2 RBI, 5 K, .154 OBP
Marlon Anderson, 2B – 3 for 20 (.150) – 2 runs, 1 2B, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 3 K, .190 OBP
Yadier Molina, C – 2 for 20 (.100) – 1 run, 3 RBI, 5 K, .174 OBP. Another catcher-Molina brother you might ask? He is listed at 5-11, 225 pounds so he sure fits the profile

Oakland:
Bobby Kielty, OF – 0 for 9 on the 11 game homestand (.225 overall) – 1 run, 4 K, 3 BB

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