A's in thick of AL West despite offensive woes

A's in thick of AL West despite offensive woes

OAKLAND -- Consider the A's second-place standing in the American League West not so much a reflection of their early-season performance but of those around them.

Entering Tuesday 5 1/2 games behind division-leading Texas, owner of a 13-4 record, Oakland sat just ahead of the Mariners and a surprisingly struggling Angels team -- despite being shut out in 22 percent of its games.

Monday's shutout marked the A's fourth of the season, most in the Majors and more than manager Bob Melvin was aware of.

"That does sound like a big number in 18 games, and we're not happy about that," Melvin said. "I think each and every guy should take that personally. I know I do. We're better than that offensively. And as a group, we have to take it personally and intensify our focus a little bit, and really get going a bit earlier in games. We have to try to put the pressure on the other team before they put it on us, and we haven't been real good about that early in the season to this point."

The A's are 6-0 when scoring first, compared to a dismal 2-10 when their opponents do. Moreover, they have a perfect record (6-0) when leading after seven innings, but are 1-9 when trailing after that frame. Overall, they've scored just 52 runs, fewest in Oakland history over the first 18 games of the season and fewest in the AL.

"The way we've been offensively, we're probably lucky to be two games under .500," Melvin said. "The pitching has been terrific. The defense, for the most part, has been terrific. We just haven't hit our stride yet offensively."