(OAKLAND) -- With a plus-73 run differential, the 2014 Oakland Athletics are starting to separate themselves a bit from the pack in the American League West, and if it wasn't for a shaky start to the season by the bullpen, the A's would truly be considered an early favorite for the AL pennant.
The 11-0 win over the Chicago White Sox at the O.co Coliseum on Tuesday night is just more proof of the matter: across the majors, the A's hitters are second in runs scored (203) and on-base percentage (.344), while the pitching staff is first in batting-average against (.211) and second in ERA (2.86).
Oakland has a well-rounded ball club capable of beating any other team on any given day, of course, but the A's struggle for consistency, like most teams. Right now, they've won six in a row, all at home, after losing three in a row, at home.
But it's that run differential that sets the Oakland team apart from other teams having successful quarter-post starts to the 2014 season: the Detroit Tigers are 23-12 with a +43 mark, while the Colorado Rockies are 23-18 with a +51 differential.
Really, no other team is close to matching the A's start in terms of win-loss record and run differential, and this is why the Oakland squad currently has the highest probability of postseason qualification (91.4%). The Tigers (85.8%) and the Rockies (68.1%), again, are the only other teams with a better-than 60% chance of seeing October action.
Run differential is the best predictor of future performance, according to the statistical models. So when the team is second in runs scored and second in ERA, that's a good balance to create statistical success long-term. And even with all the injuries to regular contributors, the A's are keeping their good thing going.
Outfielder Coco Crisp has missed the last week, basically, and he's often been credited as the table setter for this offense, but the Oakland lineup has produced six straight wins without him -- never a bad thing. And as for the rotation, Drew Pomeranz has stepped up for two straight scoreless starts now, and if that can keep happening, the A's are in solid shape going forward.
The young lefty again threw five shutout innings, and after striking out the side in the first inning on Tuesday, Pomeranz kept it going -- he gave up just three hits and two walks while fanning eight in his five frames. He lowered his season ERA to 1.14 in the process.
He got all the offense he needed in support early from Brandon Moss and an RBI double in the first inning. The A's first baseman -- Moss also finished the game in left field -- later delivered matching two-run home runs, as well, giving him five RBI on the night.
With six wins in nine games now on this long home stand, Oakland has one more game today at the O.co Coliseum against the White Sox. The A's have a four-game lead in the AL West, when it was down to one a week ago following three straight losses.
Oakland has a nine-game road trip up next, so to head out there on a seven-game winning streak would be a plus, even though the A's already have the best road record (13-6) in the AL. Tommy Milone (1-3, 4.54) will try to build on his momentum from his first win of the season last Friday night, as Andre Rienzo (3-0, 4.56) takes the hill for the White Sox.
Game time is 12:35 p.m. today, and Oakland has outscored its opponents in the last six games by a combined 39-8 margin -- and that's why they're favored to win again today, even without Crisp in the lineup.