OAKLAND – Much has been made of the A's having the best record in baseball from the middle of 2012 to the middle of 2013.
Since July 1, 2012, the A's are 105-61 through the weekend, in which they took two of three from St. Louis, a team many consider the best in the National League. That's a .633 winning percentage.
The first half of the 2013 season has showed that this is a somewhat different team than the one that ran down the Texas Rangers to capture the American League West title last summer.
Yes, they both showed themselves to be winners. But what the A's did last year was to pitch and hit home runs — the most in the majors after the All-Star break.
What the current crop is doing is pitching and getting on base. The A's hit home runs, to be sure, but that's only a sideline to the way they produce runs.
"It's a different approach at the plate," batting coach Chili Davis said. "We can hit home runs, but we're not just the power team we were noted to be in the second half of last year.
"We've come out to show this year that we're not just about power. We're a patient team, a selective team. We will wait for our pitch. And if (we) miss, we'll take a good swing at it."
The A's can work over a pitching staff. At the same time, the Oakland pitchers rarely allow the other side to do the same.
The first 81 games saw the A's pitchers issue just 201 walks.
That's in line with the 198 walks allowed in the final 81 games a year ago, although for the full 2012 season Oakland hurlers walked 462.
This year, the A's are improved and on course to finish under the club's season record of 415 walks in a full season.
"That's really the strength of our staff," pitching coach Curt Young said. "Word is out. We're known as a club that's going to throw strikes.
"And we've shown that we're not going to beat ourselves. It was a strength last year, and we've seen it's a strength this year, too."