Athletics-Orioles Preview

After getting swept in consecutive series by AL East

heavyweights, the Oakland Athletics are no doubt happy to face an

opponent from that division that they know they can beat.

The Athletics will try to avoid a season-high seventh straight

loss Monday night when they begin a three-game road series against

the Baltimore Orioles – the last team Oakland has defeated.

Oakland (27-33) swept three games from Baltimore (26-31) from

May 27-29, but was outscored 19-5 in a three-game sweep by the New

York Yankees in its next series. The Athletics then began this

10-game trip by being swept by Boston over the weekend.

The series in Fenway Park was more competitive, with Oakland

blowing leads in the first two games and totaling 17 runs.

“We swung the bats better this series,” second baseman Mark

Ellis said. “We ran into a couple of good teams and they beat us up

pretty good.”

That’s been the case for Orioles when they have faced the

Athletics, who have won 20 of the last 24 meetings. Oakland’s

pitching made the difference in the recent sweep of Baltimore,

which scored eight runs and managed one extra-base hit.

The A’s have won all three games Gio Gonzalez (5-3, 2.49 ERA)

has started against the Orioles. Gonzalez, 1-0 with a 2.08 ERA in

those contests, didn’t get a decision in a 6-2 victory May 27 after

allowing two runs over five innings.

The left-hander suffered his first loss since April 25 when he

gave up four runs over 6 1-3 innings of a 4-2 defeat to the Yankees

on Wednesday.

Gonzalez will be opposed by Brian Matusz (0-0, 1.59), making his

second start of the season since being activated off the disabled

list. He pitched 5 2-3 innings and yielded one run in a 2-1 victory

at Seattle on Wednesday.

“As the game went on I was able to kind of feel myself, and get

a good feel, to get myself back on track,” Matusz said. “Not trying

to think about mechanics at all, just feeling my groove and slow it

down a bit and not be so jumpy.”

The left-hander has gone 1-2 with a 6.11 ERA in three career

starts against the A’s, and 0-2 with a 7.15 ERA in two at home.

Matusz will be facing an Oakland team that has hit a major

league-low 33 homers. Josh Willingham, however, had two of those in

last month’s series against the Orioles.

First baseman Daric Barton went 6 for 12 in the series in

Boston. He has a .387 average during a nine-game hitting streak

against Baltimore.

A’s manager Bob Geren rested slumping designated hitter Hideki

Matsui on Sunday. Matsui snapped a career-worst 0-for-19 slump with

an 11th-inning single Saturday.

The series in Oakland started a stretch in which Baltimore has

dropped seven of nine. The Orioles, who have scored an AL-low 28

runs since May 27, lost 7-4 to Toronto on Sunday.

“I think we hit three line drives at them that we didn’t get

much to show for,” manager Buck Showalter told the team’s official

website. “That was frustrating.”