The veteran big bats in the middle of the lineup give the ballclub a lift. The rookie starting pitchers receive some run support and a confidence boost to keep the opposition in check. And the victories begin to pile up.
It took longer than expected, but it appears the A's players finally are erecting the building blocks from that blueprint.
Following an impressive 7-0 victory over the White Sox on Thursday at U.S. Cellular Field, that was the sentiment from a happy visitors' locker room, as the A's won their third straight contest with a rookie starter. This time it was Brett Anderson, who pitched seven innings of six-hit ball with no walks, backed by Jason Giambi's three-run homer in the sixth inning that made it a 4-0 game.
"All of them are getting on a roll together," A's manager Bob Geren said. "It's kind of what we envisioned coming out of Spring Training. This is what we were hoping for, and it's starting to happen. So it's an exciting time to watch us."
Anderson had the best outing of his short career. All six hits were singles.
Anderson, who had watched fellow rookies Vin Mazzaro and Josh Outman come away with victories the previous two nights, said he felt the need to continue the trend.
"You can't ask for much more than what we've done this series," Anderson said. "Any time your buddies in your pitching staff go out there and throw good outings, you want to go out there and keep it going."
Anderson's only trouble came in the sixth inning, when he had runners on first and second with one out. But he induced a ground-ball double play from A.J. Pierzynski and then easily handled the White Sox in order in the seventh before exiting after 109 pitches.
Anderson (3-5) threw 70 of his pitches for strikes.
"That's my whole M.O," Anderson said. "The other guys are kind of sinker and movement guys, and my M.O. is throwing strikes. And I was able to throw it to everyone and progressively through the game, so it was a pretty good day."
Oakland grabbed a 1-0 lead off Chicago ace Mark Buehrle in the fourth inning. Matt Holliday lined a leadoff double down the third-base line and advanced to third on Giambi's groundout. Kurt Suzuki then lofted a sacrifice fly to center that scored Holliday.
Giambi then provided the biggest blow, planting a three-run home run over the right-field wall in the sixth to push the A's in front by four runs. That came moments after Holliday was intentionally walked with a runner at second base to get to Giambi.
The Athletics (22-30) won three straight games for just the second time this season.
But this particular series could be a turning point for the A's, who started rookie pitchers in four consecutive games for the first time in 13 years.
"I hope so," Giambi said. "That was one thing I went to Billy Beane at the beginning of the year and said, 'You've got to give these young kids a chance. Don't shy away because they're young. Let's let them develop in the big leagues.' We took our lumps for a while, and hopefully we are turning the corner. They were outstanding this series."
Starters facing the White Sox for the first time are 7-1 with a 1.52 ERA in 11 outings this season, with three of those victories coming from the A's in the last three games.
Everyone says that when the White Sox see a new pitcher, they have trouble, "but you have to give these guys some credit," Buehrle said. "They are throwing 93 or 94 mph, and it's not the easiest thing to hit. It's not good we lost three of four to one of the worst teams in baseball, so we have to come back tomorrow."
Holliday finished the series 6-for-15 with three doubles, five RBIs and four runs scored. Giambi, meanwhile, entered Thursday's contest with a .219 batting average (the fifth-lowest mark in the American League), but he matched a season high with three RBIs.
Aaron Cunningham also added a two-run home run to left field in the eighth inning, his first of the season, to put the A's ahead, 6-0.
Yes, the hitting is starting to come around, too. But this series was all about the pitching.
Rookie righty Trevor Cahill, who started the first game of the series, Mazzaro, Outman and Anderson allowed four earned runs in 25 2/3 innings (1.40 ERA).
"You keep pushing them and pushing them to keep their confidence level up," said Giambi, who is in his 15th year in the Majors. "That's been my job. Even if they've had bad starts, I tell them, 'Hey, they're gonna be OK and get better and better.' This series, they really answered the bell."
Jesse Temple is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.