Lack of familiarity is one of the biggest challenges in Interleague Play. Both Reds manager Dusty Baker and A's manager Bob Melvin mentioned it before their teams met for the first of a two-game set in Oakland on Tuesday.
But Melvin and his A's do have one advantage: They're playing at home. The unfamiliarity reaches a new level for the Reds, who haven't seen much of the Oakland Coliseum as they head into Wednesday's finale, which pits Cincinnati right-hander Homer Bailey against Oakland righty A.J. Griffin.
"I think that the main thing they have going for them is this ballpark," Baker said. "It negates your home runs and has a whole bunch of foul territory that we're not used to seeing in our league. On both sides, you just keep running, keep running and keep running, thinking you're hitting the fence, and still have another 20 feet to go.
Although the two teams did meet once during Spring Training, Cincinnati hadn't played in Oakland prior in the regular season since 2010.
But that doesn't mean Interleague Play comes without difficulties for the A's -- who lost four of five games on the road before beating the Reds on Tuesday -- simply because they're playing at home. Melvin said the challenge in beating Cincinnati, along with the unfamiliar matchups, is that the team does everything relatively well, ranking in the top five in the National League in runs scored and team ERA.
"You don't know as much about these teams as you do about teams in your league and division," Melvin said. "So, therefore, you kind of rely on your strengths and get to know the team that you're playing as you go along."
Reds: Phillips away for finale
Second baseman Brandon Phillips is expected to miss the series finale against the A's on Wednesday, as he was placed on the paternity list on Monday.
Created by Major League Baseball in 2011, the list allows players to miss up to three games while the the team can call up a replacement to maintain an active 25-man roster. The Reds only comment on the matter came in an e-mail that read: "Brandon Phillips is away from the team on a private matter."
Without Phillips, who is batting .256 with 11 homers and 60 RBIs in 71 games this season, Cincinnati called up infielder Henry Rodriguez from Triple-A Louisville on Tuesday.
• Unlike his last start, Reds right-hander Homer Bailey hopes to have all of his pitches at his disposal on Wednesday against the A's.
On Thursday against the Pirates, Bailey labored through six innings, but gave up just two runs on six hits with eight strikeouts. However, he did so without being able to effectively use three of his pitches.
"We only had one pitch early on," Bailey said. "My split is so big for me all year. I've gotten a lot of strikeouts with it and a lot of outs with it. We didn't have it today at all. My curveball was up. My slider didn't really have what we wanted it to. But we were able to get people out early and kind of limit damage."
For the season, Bailey is 4-5 with a 3.75 ERA.
Athletics: Griffin seeks first win in six starts
When A.J. Griffin takes the mound against the Reds on Wednesday, he'll look for his first win since May 25 against the Astros.
In the five starts since then, Griffin is 0-3 with a 4.02 ERA. The 25-year-old right-hander took a no-decision in his last outing, giving up two runs on three hits and a walk against the Rangers in 5 1/3 innings -- his second shortest outing of the season.
Griffin, who is 5-6 with a 3.90 ERA on the year, left that game with the A's clinging to a 2-1 lead in the sixth, but the Rangers added a run that was charged to him.
"He gave us 100 pitches and put us in a position where we were ahead, so you can't ask for much more," Melvin said.
• The A's enter Wednesday at 6-2 in Interleague Play this season.
• The Reds have four hits in their last 35 at-bats (.114) with runners in scoring position.
• The A's will make get their first look at Cincinnati's Great American Ball Park on Aug. 6-7.
Jeremy Warnemuende is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.