Athletics vs. Diamondbacks: Gio Gonzalez Looks To Pitch A's To Series Victory

The Oakland Athletics welcome the Arizona Diamondbacks for their interleague series finale. We'll be here with news updates, previews and recaps as the A's look to build some momentum heading into the All Star Break. For more on the A's, check out Athletics Nation.

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Athletics vs. Diamondbacks: Gio Gonzalez Pitches A's To First Series Victory In Two Weeks

The Oakland Athletics got back in the win column Sunday afternoon as they defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks 7-2. Hours after learning of his selection to the 2011 MLB All Star Game, Gio Gonzalez pitched like the All Star that he is holding a dynamic DBacks offense to one run over seven innings while striking out seven. The A’s gave him plenty of support with key hits and Oakland cruised to their first series victory since sweeping the Giants.

Gonzalez got into a little bit of trouble at times but was able to get the necessary outs to avoid too much damage. In the fourth he gave up one run on a Xavier Nady single that scored Chris Young. The Diamondbacks put multiple runners on in the third and seventh innings but could not get the timely hit.

On the other hand, the A’s got several timely hits to put this game away. After Oakland fell behind 1-0 in the top of the fourth, David DeJesus hit a two-out RBI double that knocked in Coco Crisp and Hideki Matsui. The A’s added to their lead in the sixth inning. Conor Jackson hit a two run home run with nobody out, Jemile Weeks hit a sacrifice fly to score DeJesus, and Scott Sizemore followed that with a two-out two-run home run to give the A’s a 7-1 lead.

Michael Wuertz came on in relief of Gonzalez and struggled to start the eighth inning. He gave up a double to Justin Upton and then walked Chris Young and Stephen Drew. Manager Bob Melvin called on Joey Devine to clean up the mess and he did a solid job. He struck out Wily Mo Pena and then forced Xavier Nady to fly out to center. It was a relatively short fly ball so Upton did not tag up and score. Sean Burroughs came on to pinch-hit for Ryan Roberts and singled to left field. While the single scored Upton, Hideki Matsui came up throwing hard to home and gunned down Chris Young, who elected not to slide on the play. Andrew Bailey closed the game out in the ninth with a 1-2-3 inning.

The A’s will wrap up their homestand with three games against the Seattle Mariners. The series opens with a 1:00pm July 4th contest on CSN California. Brandon McCarthy returns from the disabled list to face Michael Pineda.


Athletics vs. Diamondbacks: Gio Gonzalez Makes First Start Since All Star Announcement

The Oakland Athletics meet the Arizona Diamondbacks Sunday afternoon looking to secure a series victory in their interleague play finale. Oakland will send out its newly minted All Star Game pitcher Gio Gonzalez to face Ian Kennedy who will battle for a spot in the Final Vote. Even before the announcements this matchup had the makings of the best one this weekend. Gonzalez is 7-5 with a 2.38 ERA while Kennedy is 8-2 with a 3.01 ERA.

The A’s put together a starting lineup that once again features Chris Carter hitting fifth. Josh Willingham is eligible to come off the DL on Sunday but will not as the Achilles injury continues to bother him. There is no specific timetable for his return. That gives Chris Carter a chance to show something to the team and convince them to keep him with the big club even when Willingham returns. Carter is 3-for-12 in three starts and a pinch-hit appearance. He is coming off a two-hit game on Saturday and will look to build on it over the coming days.

The A’s will once again go with Scott Sizemore in the two-spot where he was 2-for-4 on Saturday. Sizemore and Jemile Weeks have the two highest batting averages on the A’s and will look to continue their solid performances at the top of the lineup. Once Willingham does return it will be interesting to see how the A’s mix up the lineup. Weeks is hitting the ball well lately at the top of the order but his numbers at the bottom were pretty filthy as he was hitting .406 in the nine spot. He’s hitting .259 at the top of the order but he’s 10 for his last 31 in the leadoff spot (.322) so maybe he’s turning it around up there.

Oakland Athletics
1. Jemile Weeks 2B
2. Scott Sizemore 3B
3. Coco Crisp CF
4. Hideki Matsui LF
5. Chris Carter DH
6. Conor Jackson 1B
7. David DeJesus RF
8. Landon Powell C
9. Cliff Pennington SS

Arizona Diamondbacks
1. Willie Bloomquist LF
2. Kelly Johnson 2B
3. Justin Upton RF
4. Chris Young CF
5. Stephen Drew SS
6. Wily Mo Pena DH
7. Xavier Nady 1B
8. Ryan Roberts 3B
9. Henry Blanco C


Chris Young Drives Diamondbacks To 4-2 Victory Over Athletics

The Oakland Athletics dropped the second game of a three-game set with the Arizona Diamondbacks 4-2 after the DBacks jumped on Josh Outman. While Outman was not shelled he did not have the command he’s had in recent games and it cost him Chris Young carried Arizona’s offense as he had three straight hits including a two-run home run to net four RBIs. The A’s attempted a rally late but ran out of time.

Joe Saunders was dominant through seven innings as the A’s could not get the key hits they got Friday night. The A’s managed some bases-empty two out hits, but they could not get the two outs with runners in scoring position until the eighth inning. Scott Sizemore drove in a run on a ground out followed by Hideki Matsui singling in a run with two outs. The A’s got the tying run on base when Chris Carter singled, but Conor Jackson struck out looking to end the eighth. The A’s went in order in the ninth and that was that.

Chris Young was the spark plug for Arizona a night after they struggled much of the game. Young singled off in Willie Bloomquist in the first inning to give the Diamondbacks a 1-0 lead. Young followed that up in the third with an RBI double to drive in Kelly Johnson. He capped his evening with a two-run home run to drive in Justin Upton in the fifth inning. The Diamondbacks would not score any more runs but none were necessary.

The A’s and Diamondbacks will meet in the rubber match on Sunday at 1:05pm. Gio Gonzalez and Ian Kennedy square off in a battle of potential All Star pitchers.


Athletics vs. Diamondbacks, Starting Lineups: Jemile Weeks, Scott Sizemore At The Top Of The Order

The Oakland Athletics meet the Arizona Diamondbacks Saturday evening in the second game of their three-game interleague series at O.Co Coliseum. The A’s opened the series with a 5-4 victory Friday night in which Rich Harden displayed dominant stuff and the A’s offense had more hits with two outs and runners in scoring position than in the previous eight games combined.

The A’s will stick with Chris Carter on offense, playing him at first base and hitting fifth in the A’s lineup. Carter has struggled at the plate since his call-up but the potential is enough to justify keeping him in the lineup in the hope that he can get the power going.

The A’s made a slight change to their lineup as Cliff Pennington will get the day off and Adam Rosales will start at shortstop. With this change in the field, Scott Sizemore has been moved up to the two spot in the starting lineup. That puts Sizemore and Jemile Weeks at the top of lineup, which means the top two batting averages on the A’s roster will be the table setters for Coco Crisp and Hideki Matsui.

Oakland Athletics
1. Jemile Weeks 2B
2. Scott Sizemore 3B
3. Coco Crisp CF
4. Hideki Matsui DH
5. Chris Carter 1B
6. Conor Jackson LF
7. Kurt Suzuki C
8. David DeJesus RF
9. Adam Rosales SS

Arizona Diamondbacks
1. Willie Bloomquist SS
2. Kelly Johnson 2B
3. Justin Upton RF
4. Chris Young CF
5. Wily Mo Pena DH
6. Miguel Montero C
7. Xavier Nady 1B
8. Ryan Roberts 3B
9. Gerardo Parra LF


Rich Harden, Timely Two Out Hitting Keys Athletics Win Over Diamondbacks

The Oakland Athletics started another series with a solid victory as they defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday night. The A’s rode an excellent performance by Rich Harden and timely two-out hitting to a 5-4 victory in the series opener. One of the biggest problems for the A’s offense in 2011 has been a lack of two out hits. They had four hits Friday night with two outs and runners in scoring position, which was more than they had in the previous eight games.

Although the offense was key, Rich Harden was the story of the night as he looked solid in his return to the A’s starting rotation. Harden was on a pitch count but managed to last six strong innings. He had struggled in previous years with inefficiency in his pitches but that was far from the case on Friday. He struckout six batters through six innings on just 76 pitches. The key was not walking batters and getting ahead in the count whenever possible. His only mistakes came on a changeup that Wily Mo Pena absolutely destroyed and then a couple mistakes to Kelly Johnson and Stephen Drew.

Harden threw 72 pitches in his last start for Sacramento so he probably could have come out for the seventh inning and still stayed within the 90 pitch count. However, given the normally strong A’s bullpen it made sense to get him out while he was feeling good and had a lead. The bullpen did struggle a bit as Brian Fuentes gave up a two run home run to Kelly Johnson. However, Joey Devine and Andrew Bailey slammed the door after Fuentes left to secure the win.

The win was made possible by some impressive two-out hitting by the A’s. The A’s scored all five runs with two out hits. Ryan Sweeney had an RBI single in the fourth inning to get the A’s even 1-1. In the fifth, David DeJesus and Scott Sizemore each singled before the second out was made. That was followed by RBI singles from Cliff Pennington and Coco Crisp, and an RBI double from Hideki Matsui.

The A’s and Diamondbacks play the second game of their series Saturday night at 6:05pm pacific on CSN California. Josh Outman will face Joe Saunders as the A’s look to build on the series-opening win.


Athletics vs. Diamondbacks: Rich Harden Returns!

The Oakland Athletics open their three game series with the Arizona Diamondbacks and will send out former phenom Rich Harden. This will mark his first start in an Oakland uniform since 2008 prior to being traded to the Chicago Cubs. Although Harden has bounced around since then, the one unifying theme has been injury. He has been on the DL for 758 days during his career, or the equivalent of approximately 111 starts. The closest Harden has come to a completely healthy season was in 2004 when he made 31 starts for the A’s and even then he missed the first two weeks of the season.

Now, Harden is back in the rotation representing a healthy body as injured pitchers drop like flies. While his strong first rehab start had some folks excited, most A’s fans at this point recognize Harden for what he is, or maybe what he was. An immensely talented pitcher who can’t stay healthy and struggles with his command because he’s trying to strike everybody out. Even when healthy Harden has dealt with pitch count issues that have limited his effectiveness to short outings.

As he prepares to make his first start for the A’s in nearly three years, anything he can provide is basically house-money at this point. He’ll face a tough challenge in his first start against a solid Arizona Diamondbacks offense. Arizona is eighth in the league in scoring with 371 runs. Thus far the Diamondbacks have put together a line of .318/.419/.737 and are tied for fourth in the majors with 91 home runs.

Harden is expected to have a pitch count of around 90 Friday night. During his two-game minor league rehab stint he threw 42 pitches in his first start and 72 pitches in his second start. Given Harden’s previous injury issues the A’s will likely take it easy in working him back into the rotation.


MLB Standings Update 2011: A's Continue Their Descent In The Cellar

The Oakland Athletics open up a three game series with the Arizona Diamondbacks hoping to stem the tide of their continuing struggles. Aside from their five-game winning streak against the Kansas City Royals and San Francisco Giants, the A's have managed to lose 19 of 22 games. During that stretch the A's have amazingly only dropped 5 1/2 games in the standings. After beating the Baltimore Orioles on May 29 to win their fourth straight game, the A's were sitting at .500 and were 1 1/2 games back of first place Texas. A month later the A's are ten games under .500 and sitting seven games out of first. Of course, the negative momentum they currently have makes that seven games seem like a lot more.

While the A's are taking on the Diamondbacks, the first place Rangers host the Florida Marlins for three games, the Los Angeles Angels will be hosting the Dodgers in their annual freeway series, and the Seattle Mariners host the San Diego Padres for three games. With the A's playing Seattle and Texas and LA and Seattle facing off later next weekend, this interleague weekend is sort of a pace weekend where nobody wants to lose ground heading into a big pre-All Star stretch.

AL West Standings

Texas 43 39 .524 0 Lost 1
Los Angeles 42 40 .512 1 Won 3
Seattle 39 42 .481 3.5 Lost 3
Oakland 36 46 .439 7 Lost 2

(updated 7.1.2011 at 10:20 AM PDT)

American League Wild Card Standings

Boston 46 34 .575 0 Won 1
Tampa Bay 45 36 .555 1.5 Lost 1
Cleveland 42 37 .531 3.5 Won 1
Los Angeles 42 40 .512 5 Won 3
Chicago 40 42 .487 7 Won 2
Toronto 40 42 .487 7 Lost 1
Seattle 39 42 .481 7.5 Lost 3
Baltimore 35 43 .448 10 Lost 3
Oakland 36 46 .439 11 Lost 2
Minnesota 34 45 .430 11.5 Won 2
Kansas City 33 48 .407 13.5 Lost 3

(updated 7.1.2011 at 10:20 AM PDT)


Athletics vs. Diamondbacks, Interleague Play: A's Wrap Up Interleague Play Against Arizona

The Oakland Athletics close out their 2011 interleague play schedule by hosting the Arizona Diamondbacks for three games starting Friday. The A's are currently 6-9 in interleague play following a series loss to the Florida Marlins. Much like the Mets series, Oakland got off to a strong start with a shutout win to open the series. Yet they could do nothing to build on that momentum and ended up losing the series.

Now the A's continue a nine game homestand with hopes of climbing back into the divisional race before the All Star Break gets here. They play these three with Arizona, followed by three at home against Seattle and four on the road against Texas. I'd say that's a pretty big stretch. At seven games back the A's are fast approaching a wall they can't move behind.

This weekend features some very intriguing matchups. Friday night will see Rich Harden make his return to the A's rotation for the first time in several years and he'll be facing Josh Collmenter. This could turn into a great pitchers' duel or it could see both starters out pretty quickly. Harden will be facing a pitch count of approximately 90 and has had problems with wildness in the past. Collmenter has moved from the bullpen to the starting rotation and has had his ups and downs. He has lost three straight starts giving up 14 runs in those games after 34 innings in which he gave up four earned runs.

Sunday's matchup between Gio Gonzalez and Ian Kennedy features arguably the best pitcher on each pitching staff at this point. Gonzalez is 7-5 with a 2.38 ERA, a 1.24 WHIP and is coming off eight shutout innings of the Marlins. Kennedy is 8-2 with a 3.01 ERA and 1.09 WHIP. He gave up four runs over eight innings in his last start against the Indians but has been quite solid over the course of the season.

Current Series

3 game series vs Diamondbacks @ Coliseum

Arizona Diamondbacks
@ Oakland Athletics

Friday, Jul 1, 2011, 7:05 PM PDT Coliseum

Josh Collmenter vs Rich Harden

Clear. Winds blowing from left to right field at 10-15 m.p.h. Game time temperature around .

Complete Coverage >

Sat 07/02 - Josh Outman vs. Joe Saunders 6:05 PM PDT
Sun 07/03 - Gio Gonzalez vs. Ian Kennedy 1:05 PM PDT
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