I say that the A's have had a quiet 5-game winning streak because I haven't been able to see any of the games. For whatever reason (work, events, odd scheduling on MLB Extra Innings), I've missed the last few games, and the A's have done just fine without me. After this mini-surge, the A's are now 14-12 and a half-game behind the Rangers.
After 26 games last year, the A's were 11-15, had scored only 91 runs and had allowed 120. This year, the A's have given up about the same number of runs (122) but they've been able to increase the offense - scoring 121 runs so far this year. That's a 33% increase in runs scored over the same time period, but it only moved the A's from dead last in the AL in runs scored to 11th out of 14 teams. In order to make the playoffs, the A's are going to need more offense.
By the end of the 2005 season, the A's had climbed all the way up to sixth in terms of runs scored. We're going to need a similar performance again this year to pull away from our mediocre start.
The pitching, however, has been about the same this year as it was last year - 122 runs so far against 120 last year over the first 26 games and the 4th-best AL pitching staff so far in 2006 compared to a 4th-best AL pitching staff over the course of 2005. So, the A's are doing fine on the pitching front (injuries notwithstanding).
Here's the problem - last year, the A's went 11-15 in their first 26 games and 8-18 over their next 26 games with Harden and Crosby on the DL. Again this year Harden's on the DL for May, and the A's face a tough schedule with series against the Indians, at the Blue Jays, at the Yankees, at the White Sox and at the Rangers. (Although the Devel Rays ,Mariners and Royals come to Oakland over that same stretch.) So, we're left to hope the offensive explosion from yesterday carries on throughout May and carries the A's to a better record than 8-18 and a solid foundation for a playoff run.
(And by the way, you've gotta love the grit of Jason Kendall. He's a gamer, even if it does look like he's about to get pounded in that picture.)