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Oakland Athletics catcher Kurt Suzuki, left, congratulates batterymate Jerry Blevins after getting the last out of a 7-1 victory over the Seattle Mariners in a Major League Baseball game, Sunday, April 3, 2011 at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in Oakland, Calif. (D. Ross Cameron/Staff)

The A's embark on their first road trip of 2011 hoping to avoid frostbite and shed some history.

For the past four years, they've been one of the American League's worst road teams.

If they're to contend this season, it's imperative the A's win more games away from the Oakland Coliseum.

They face a stiff challenge with a nine-game trip that begins Tuesday against the Toronto Blue Jays, who led the majors with 257 homers last season.

Next comes three games each against the Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox, two AL Central contenders who play in open-air stadiums. Temperatures are expected in the 40s for each series.

With 22 of their next 35 games on the road, the A's must play well or risk falling into an early hole in the AL West.

"I think that's going to be a make-or-break thing for us," reliever Michael Wuertz said. "The teams that play well on the road usually end up in the playoffs."

Since 2007, the A's have gone 137-186 in road games for a .424 winning percentage. In the AL, only the Baltimore Orioles, Seattle Mariners and Kansas City Royals have fared worse over the same period.

Contrast that with the A's .525 home winning percentage since 2007.

Just nine of 30 major league teams posted winning road records last season. But consider that the four AL playoff teams from 2010 averaged a 43-38 mark on the road.

The A's, who finished nine games behind division champ Texas last season, were 47-34 at the Coliseum and 34-47 elsewhere.


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"As good as we were at home last year, if we can just play .500 on the road, we can have a really good season," A's second baseman Mark Ellis said.

Ellis is at a loss to explain why the A's have struggled so much in the gray uniforms.

"I have no idea," he said. "Maybe we get out of our comfort zone. But I actually enjoy playing on the road. If you could figure out what it was, you'd fix it."

It's no surprise that A's pitchers are tough at home, since the Coliseum is a pitcher's ballpark. In 2010, Oakland posted the AL's lowest ERA (3.02) at home and allowed a league-low 62 homers.

It's harder to explain why the A's surrendered 91 homers on the road, which tied for second-most in the AL.

Offensively, the A's averaged just 3.81 runs per road game, the team's lowest mark since the 1978 squad scored 3.06.

For starting pitcher Trevor Cahill, the issue boils down to familiarity. At the Coliseum, Cahill said he knows the timing of pregame ceremonies and can adjust his routine accordingly.

He's familiar with the slope of the mound and can predict the weather -- rarely do temperatures get extremely high or low.

"You go somewhere else, maybe it's cold and we're not used to that," Cahill said. "Or you go to Kansas City in the summer when it's really warm, and we're not used to that. I think it's more just comfort."

If forecasts for Minnesota and Chicago are correct, the A's will encounter much chillier weather than they're accustomed to. But regardless of climate, they need to stash away more victories in opposing ballparks.

"I think everybody's home record is going to be better than their road," manager Bob Geren said. "But we need to do a better job on the road, that's for sure."