CINCINNATI -- The A's have played 16 games since the All-Star break, and third baseman Josh Donaldson has played in all of them.
Given that he was hitting .310 with 16 home runs and 61 RBIs at the break -- clearly All-Star level numbers despite being left off the American League team -- expectations were big for the second half.
So far, those expectations have not been met. Donaldson is hitting .196 with one double, no homers and no RBIs since the break. The A's have limped by with an 8-8 record in those games.
Donaldson's struggles are one reason the A's acquired Alberto Callaspo from the Los Angeles Angels last week, shortly before the trade deadline. Although he was acquired to play second base, Callaspo has mostly been a third baseman in his career and gives manager Bob Melvin the option to rest a weary Donaldson from time to time.
Donaldson said his recent struggles are a matter of concern, but they aren't getting into his mind when he is at the plate.
"The thing to remember is that you can't always control what happens with the ball once it comes off your bat," he said. "I think I've hit the ball better than the numbers show. The home runs and the RBIs, I don't think about. They'll come. It's just one of those things you go through in a season."
The A's, who entered Monday leading the American League West by 21/2 games over Texas, have relied on Donaldson's offense this season. Right fielder Josh Reddick's extra-base production is down dramatically from last year's 32 homers, and left fielder Yoenis Cespedes recently had a 25-game homerless streak. Brandon Moss, Coco Crisp, Chris Young and Seth Smith also have had trouble generating offense with consistency.
The A's are averaging just over 3.7 runs per game since the All-Star break, and that includes a two-game, 19-run explosion July 28-29. In the other 14 games, the A's scored 2.9 runs per game.
Donaldson and the A's will need to pick it up if they are to maintain their lead in the A.L. West over the final 51 games.
"I've gone a while without a home run, but I've hit four or five balls that I think would have gone out most any other place (than the O.co Coliseum)," Donaldson said. "That being said, I won't change what I'm doing. I don't feel that far away.
"In this homestand I've been putting the ball in the air where I thought it was out, and the air here knocked it down to where the center fielder caught it in front of the warning track. That's not always going to happen."
It's not likely to happen in Cincinnati, where the A's begin a two-game series Tuesday. Just the thought of playing in the middle of a warm summer in the Great American Ballpark brought a smile to A's shortstop Jed Lowrie, the man who frequently bats in front of Donaldson in the lineup.
"It's a great place to hit," he said. "One of the best. It's been tough with the weather in Oakland lately, but Cincinnati is a great place for hitters."
The A's in general and Donaldson in particular could use some of that.