Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 7/21/13
Dan Straily The Oakland Athletics had a great first half of the MLB season. Even though they wavered a bit in June, they were able to finish strong with a two game lead in the AL West. Since the Athletics are usually a second half team, many were certain that the A’s were on their way to the postseason. However, after starting off the second half of the season with two loses, have the Athletics hit a mid-season slump? Let us take a look at the past two games the A’s have played against the Los Angeles Angels. On Friday, the Oakland Athletics were both sloppy on defense and on offense. With Home Run Derby Champion Yoenis Cespedes pulled from the line-up with left wrist soreness, the A’s were already down one great slugger. In the first inning, Josh Donaldson had a throwing error that allowed Angel J.B. Shuck to reach second on an infield hit. Then Josh Reddick dove for a line drive and ultimately missed, which made the first inning not only disappointing, but worrisome. When the fifth inning rolled around, there was some hope that the A’s could catch up to the Angels. But, with two on and two outs, John Jaso was promptly picked off first base by the Angels catcher. Even though the Athletics lineup was having some difficulty, right handed pitcher Sonny Gray who came up from Triple-A before the All-Star break to pitch for the A’s against the Pittsburgh Pirates, was the shining star of this first game against the Angels. He was able to pitch 2 ⅓ scoreless innings and struck out three. Even though he was sent back to Sacramento after the game, he was able to make a name for himself in the Athletics bullpen after pitching a total of 4 ⅓ scoreless innings during his small stint in the major leagues. On Saturday, the Athletics were still looking for the first win after the All-Star break. However, with Cespedes still out, the Athletics would need to once again step up their game in order to fill the void. But with Angels pitcher C.J. Wilson on the mound, the Athletics could not connect their bats with Wilson’s perfect pitches. From the middle of the second inning to the end of the seventh, Wilson retired 18 men and did not allow a single run. With the offense lacking, Athletics pitcher Dan Straily tried to save the game. Even though he only allowed eight hits and struck out four men, the Angels scored in the first and the seventh inning to take a two run lead over the Athletics. With Bartolo Colon pitching for the Athletics in their last game against the Angels, there is no doubt that the A’s pitching will be on point. However, the A’s lineup will need to shake off their offensive funk in order to back up Colon. Even though this is not the best second-half start for the Athletics, if we look back to the beginning of the 2013 season, the Athletics started off in a similar fashion with a 0-2 record. So do not count out the Athletics quite yet because there is still plenty of time for their luck around to turn around.

This article first appeared on isportsweb.com and was syndicated with permission.

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