Darren Bush likes to tinker with his lineup from day to day. At the Triple-A level, with its frequent roster movement, the River Cats manager says it helps players be prepared for "anything that gets thrown at them."
Through eight games this season, Bush has used as many different lineups. But then, for the most part, it hasn't really mattered for the River Cats who has hit where, as nearly everyone has hit well.
The River Cats wake up this morning batting .337 as a team, the highest mark in the Pacific Coast League, despite a 5-0 loss to the Tucson Padres on Thursday that ended their winning streak at five games.
Prior to that loss, Bush, in his sixth season managing in the A's farm system, said he had not had a team start a season hitting like this.
"We've had a bunch of quality at-bats over the last week," said Bush, whose team collected 22 hits in an 18-6 victory at Tucson on Tuesday. "Guys have solid approaches, a good plan, and they're putting it into action.
"Every team's going to go through ups and downs. You know that when a team gets hot, (it's) going to go off for a little while. You hope that it continues."
The River Cats play their home opener tonight against the Reno Aces and will send to the mound right-hander Brad Peacock, who surely wouldn't mind more of the run support he received in his first start of the year.
Peacock allowed four runs, two earned, in six innings last Saturday but departed with a four-run lead.
"Hitting's kind of contagious," said outfielder Brandon Moss. "When you see guys going up there and squaring up balls ahead of you, it gives you a little more confidence when you get up there. And I think we just have a lot of good hitters."
A self-described "aggressive hitter," Moss said his approach at the plate has been simply "to go up there and try to drive the ball." And the 28-year-old Moss rode one of the hottest starts on the team in its first week, batting .421 with two home runs and six RBIs in his first five games.
That he wasn't even in the lineup Thursday hinted at the River Cats' outfield depth. The outfield consisted of Michael Taylor (.452, 11 RBIs before Thursday), Grant Green (.214, two home runs, eight RBIs) and Jeff Fiorentino (.333), with outfielder Jermaine Mitchell (.375) at designated hitter.
"We've got guys, one through nine, who can hit," said first baseman Chris Carter.
Indeed, in Wednesday's 3-2 win over Tucson, ninth hitter Adam Rosales drove in all three of the River Cats' runs on two-out hits with runners in scoring position.
The timely hitting was missing Thursday, as the River Cats were 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position.
"In general, we've taken advantage of our opportunities," Bush said. "The offense (is) just a byproduct of the way they're running the bases and putting themselves into good situations."
After beginning the season in hitter-friendly parks in Las Vegas and Tucson, the River Cats return tonight to Raley Field, where the forecast calls for chilly and potentially damp weather.
Whether that cools the bats remains to be seen, though Carter and Moss said Raley Field seems to play as fairly to hitters as pitchers.
"Right now, a lot of things are falling for all of us," Moss said. "Guys come up and get big hits. I don't expect that to change, but I also don't expect us to go out and put up 22 hits every night."