Oakland A's Notes: Can Offense Continue Run?

Oakland's offense was slumbering at home until the Royals came to town -- and the A's suddenly came alive despite facing two of the league's top starters, Brian Bannister and Zack Greinke, in the first two games. In the three-game set, Oakland scored 26 runs.

The biggest constant in the series: Shortstop Bobby Crosby, who went 8-for-13 with four walks, five runs and seven RBIs. Crosby, who spent the off-season working on his hitting in a batting cage he had built in his back yard, is batting .313 with a team-high 15 RBIs, and he's been giving the A's a big lift from the right side of the plate, often a need for the heavily left-handed hitting team.

Crosby said he had moved too far off the plate the previous two seasons, years in which he missed time with injuries and hit below .230. He's totally healthy now, and he is playing extremely well in the field. With Mark Ellis, Crosby provides Oakland with one of the better middle-infield combos in the AL. The A's have turned 24 double plays, putting them among the league leaders.

The A's also have another strong combo that might get overlooked: Their catching tandem of Kurt Suzuki and Rob Bowen is capable offensively, and both are solid behind the plate, too. Suzuki is hitting .328 with a .394 OBP and he has batted in the lead-off spot for Oakland lately. Bowen has only played in two games this season, but he has three hits in nine at-bats and he drove-in two runs versus Kansas City on Sunday.

One of the A's who still isn't on track offensively is designated hitter Jack Cust, who is batting .157 with one home run and 22 strikeouts. He's shown some signs of getting going recently. He has reached base in seven straight games and he is still reaching base at a respectable .368 clip. However, he only has three extra-base hits in 51 at-bats.

Travis Buck is also struggling. He has missed the past two games with shin splints and is batting only .154 with 20 strike-outs and two walks. The A's lead the league with 141 strike-outs. On the flip-side, the A's offense is fourth in the AL in walks with 82 and seventh in the AL in runs scored with 91.

Organizational Notes
--RHP Keith Foulke was placed on the disabled list retroactive to April 11 with neck stiffness. Foulke has been unavailable much of the past week with tightness in between his trapezius and rhomboid muscles in his upper back.

--LHP Lenny DiNardo will be skipped this week in the A's rotation, meaning he's made his last start for some time. RHP Justin Duchscherer, whose spot DiNardo was filling, made a rehab start for Sacramento on Monday. He threw 48 pitches for the River Cats. Duchscherer allowed two runs in 2.2 innings. He gave up five hits, while striking out one and walking zero. Duchscherer induced five groundouts and one fly-out. He threw 48 pitches.

--OF Carlos Gonzalez left the River Cats' game on Monday in the ninth inning with an injury. He hit a foul ball and had to leave the game after the swing. It wasn't immediately clear what was wrong with Gonzalez. He is batting .353 with three homers and a 943 OPS.

--2B Kevin Melillo had a big game on Monday for Sacramento in his third start back from rehabbing a wrist injury. He went 3-4 with a double, his first hits of the year.

--RHP Santiago Casilla hasn't allowed a run in 11 appearances this year for the A's. His scoreless streak, dating back to last season, now stands at 13 2/3 innings, and he is filling in as the primary right-handed set-up man with Keith Foulke out.

--RHP Andrew Brown hasn't given up an earned run in nine outings this season for Oakland, covering 13 innings. Brown has been especially valuable to the A's bullpen this year because of his ability to go two innings, which he does regularly.

--RHP Craig Italiano won his second game for Kane County on Monday with five more strong innings. He allowed one earned run on three hits and two walks, while striking out five. The hard-throwing Italiano has a 1.89 ERA in 19 innings and he leads the A's organization with 29 strike-outs.

--SS Michael Richard returned for Kane County on Monday after missing nearly two weeks with a thumb injury. Richard didn't miss a beat, going 3-5 with three runs scored and two stolen bases. The Cougars are now 15-2 on the season.

--RHP Vince Mazzaro continued his strong start to the 2008 season with six more solid innings on Monday for Double-A Midland. The right-hander won his second game by allowing only one run in six innings. He struck-out two and walked none while scattering eight hits. Mazzaro has a 2.74 ERA in four starts this season (23 innings).

--Midland hit three homers in support of Mazzaro on Monday. Justin Sellers, Jesus Guzman and Jon Zeringue all homered. Cliff Pennington scored three runs. The A's 2005 first-round pick has a .419 OBP on the season.

BY THE NUMBERS: 22 -- The number of years since the A's last made errors in 12 consecutive games, as they did the past two weeks, making 15 errors overall in that span. Saturday's was particularly painful: First baseman Daric Barton dropped a foul pop and Miguel Olivo homered two pitches later.

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