Quiet A's offense hoping to improve
Oakland bats have been unproductive recently
ARLINGTON -- With the A's entering Sunday with their worst record of the season -- 11 games under .500 at 18-29 -- manager Bob Geren said the offense is the one area where improvement needs to happen soon, even with a rash of injuries that has four potential starters out of the lineup.
"Have we had injuries? Yes," Geren said. "A lack of offense from guys that have been here is probably what needs to improve the most."
The A's had been outscored, 25-6, by Texas entering Sunday's finale of a four-game series against the American League West front-runners. The A's trailed the Rangers by 11 games entering Sunday.
The A's entered Sunday last in the Majors with a .351 slugging percentage and 110 extra-base hits, despite the offseason pickups of Matt Holliday and Jason Giambi. Oakland was last in the AL with 34 home runs and a .240 batting average.
And the worst part? A team that is supposed to be built on the philosophy of a high on-base percentage was second-to-last in the AL with a .316 average.
"The entire lineup needs to produce," Geren said. "To have success, we need everybody to contribute."
So who does it fall on to get things turned around? Is it the top of the lineup, with leadoff hitter Orlando Cabrera and Adam Kennedy? Is it RBI guys Holliday and Giambi? How about No. 3 hitter Jack Cust, who had been a rock in the A's lineup before lower back spasms that have resulted in him having only one at-bat in this series entering Sunday (Cust was in the lineup for Sunday)?
The A's are going to have to get hot with their bats quickly, with outfielder Travis Buck going on the disabled list Saturday to go with Mark Ellis, Eric Chavez and Nomar Garciaparra.
Cabrera echoed his manager's thoughts that the swinging A's have to start swinging it.
"We need to hit, that's for sure," Cabrera said. "I feel like I need to do my part. The entire team needs to hit. That's pretty much it."
Three straight losses to the first-place Rangers have the A's in a precarious position when it comes to staying in the division race. The A's will leave Texas staring at a double-digit deficit in games back in the standings heading into a four-game series in Chicago against the White Sox.
Geren, who has not been in an upbeat mood this weekend, still remained optimistic when reminded by a reporter that the A's have made it a habit in past years of being a team that gets rolling once June 1 rolls around.
"I think the offense is going to pick it up," Geren said. "And the young pitching is getting better."
Cabrera said with so many games left -- especially against the Rangers, Mariners and Angels -- there is still plenty of time.
"There's 100 games left," Cabrera said. "There's always a chance. Anybody can do it."
Todd Wills is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.