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A's need to strive for consistency with bats to be truly successful

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(OAKLAND) -- Baseball is an up-and-down game, and sometimes, the other guys just have your number. The Oakland Athletics are no strangers to streaks, both positive and negative, because that's just the nature of baseball.

But it is frustrating to be a part of when the negatives happen, and even though you know baseball is a 162-game season with many peaks and valleys, it's tough to ignore some patterns. And the A's scoring patterns are often a head-scratching enterprise for anyone following the team.

Overall, the Oakland offense has scored the fourth-most runs in the major leagues this season (157). But in their last four games, three of them losses, the A's have plated just nine base runners. In the three games prior to that, all wins, Oakland scored 25 times.

Considering the three wins with 25 runs game against the Texas Rangers, while the four games with just nine runs came against the sub-.500 Boston Red Sox and Seattle Mariners, it's easy to see the need for scratching the temples. The Rangers are a good team, while the other two haven't been playing very well.

The A's are 0-6 when they don't score at least three runs in 2014, and considering their overall record (19-13), you can see they're a pretty tough team to beat when they do score three times. Oakland has scored in double digits five times already this season, but they've also been shutout or held to one run five times -- that's quite the variance in offensive production.

Last night, the A's tallied just four hits, three walks and two runs. Hence, they lost to the Mariners for the first time this year in a game Felix Hernandez didn't start. True, having a healthy lineup matters, and with two regular outfielders -- Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Reddick -- out with injuries, Oakland didn't send its "A" team to the plate last night.

But this is baseball, so even the best lineup gets the bats sizzled sometimes by the other team. However, the wide variance in production from A's hitters this season, and in truth the past two seasons as well, needs to be trimmed down in order to achieve better, long-term, playoff results.

There's nothing wrong with winning division titles: Oakland has won 16 of them since divisional play began in 1969, second only to the New York Yankees (19) and the Atlanta Braves (17). That's some pretty good company, and of course, the A's have also won six American League pennants and four World Series titles in that time frame, too.

But they haven't been to those heights since 1990, and it would be nice to get there again sometime soon. To do that, they'll need more consistency on offense -- they can start tonight against Roenis Elias (2-2, 3.09), who held the A's to one run on April 3 in his MLB debut.

Jesse Chavez (2-0, 1.89) will oppose him for Oakland, and game time is 7:05 p.m. tonight at the O.co Coliseum.

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