A's Current Record: 15-15
The headling of this post is only partly serious, though I'm not sure exactly what percentage of me is joking. On the one hand, the Rays have played really, really, well. Their 22-7 record is the best in the majors and their 13-1 road record is pretty absurd. Their run differential is +86. The Yankees' is at +62 and no other team in the AL has a run differential better than +37. On the other hand, the A's offense looked so bad they may have had a hard time scoring runs off of the Pirates staff. Yes, Price showed his ace quality stuff last night, but he did walk four and the A's couldn't take advantage when Price and the Rays defense made mistakes.
It's hard to know what to do about the A's offense. It is still only a little over a month into the season, so I don't want to put too much stock into some of the A's slow starts at the plate, even if they were entirely expected (Eric Chavez). Also, the A's have been battling injuries, with three players (or four counting Travis Buck) who were expected to play significant roles in the offense currently on the DL. On top of this, neither Michael Taylor or Chris Carter are hitting particularly well in AAA, so it really doesn't make any sense to call them up with the hopes they can carry the offense.
In the short term, I'd like to see Landon Powell and Jake Fox split catching duties with Josh Donaldson acting as a bench player. Neither Powell or Fox have hit much so far, but Donaldson just doesn't look good at the plate; he's struck out in half of his PAs and his only hit was his home run in Toronto. Rajai Davis and Eric Patterson look pretty bad too, so I think giving Gabe Gross some more playing time could be helpful (though Gross hasn't played that well either).
What the A's really need is to get healthy and there's a bit of good-ish news on that front. Kurt Suzuki may be back as early as next week and Mark Ellis may be heading to a rehab assignment soon. Coco Crisp is also about a week or two away from a rehab assignment, but Travis Buck's strained oblique apparently isn't getting any better.
As for the pitching, Gio Gonzalez had a fairly typical start, allowing three runs on three hits, walking five and striking out seven. Obviously the walk total is too high, but he was around the strike zone for most of the game, 59 of his 102 pitches were strikes. He did last seven innings to let the bullpen rest, but there really is no concern about resting the bullpen. The A's have called up Henry Rodriguez and Edwar Ramirez and don't need a fifth starter for a while so are working with a 9 MAN BULLPEN! This is just crazy. I'd have to imagine that a Matt Carson or Steve Tolleson or even Jack Cust could do more for the A's this next week than the ninth man out of the pen.
And speaking of crazy bullpen moves, I totally disagree with Geren's decision to have Gaudin pitch the ninth instead of Wuertz. Yes the A's weren't particularly likely to come back in the bottom of the ninth, but the eighth inning had just proven that a two run lead was pretty vulnerable and Wuertz would have been more likely to keep it a two run game. At this point, Gaudin is pretty much just a mop up guy and a two run deficit isn't insurmountable even if the A's offense makes it seem that way.