The Oakland Athletics and SF Giants are heading in opposite directions following the Bay Bridge Series.
The Bay Bridge Series sweep by the Oakland Athletics brought forth the offensive prowess of the never-say-die attitude of the A’s and exploiting the glaring imperfections of the SF Giants in all aspects.
A potent lineup with a solid pitching rotation, the Athletics came into the season knowing the potential of a lengthy postseason run. Early exits from the previous seasons derailed from reaching the pinnacle from a squad who produces an entertaining brand of baseball.
But a return to activities after the coronavirus pandemic put a freeze on Oakland’s offense to start the year with a 4-3 record through seven games. The turnaround came after two close wins in Seattle saw Oakland erupt for 11 runs in the final contest of the series.
Upon coming to San Francisco, the A’s nine-game win streak came to an end after dropping the first two games in Los Angeles (Angels) before salvaging the final matchup. Despite a winning run come to an end, Oakland is jockeying with the New York Yankees for the best MLB record.
Oakland’s offense got off to a power outage against the Giants with Johnny Cueto turning in another quality start for the home side. In the exhibition series before the season began, Oakland mustered only four runs in the two games against San Francisco.
The SF Giants do not have lofty expectations compared to the Oakland Athletics but refuse to go down quietly in contests. San Francisco legitimately competed in every game before a breakdown on defense or pitching became the unraveling.
First-year manager, Gabe Kapler, is not getting off to a great start with questionable decisions blemishing the bright spots on a young Giants team.
The Philadelphia Phillies knew quite well not getting max production from players was a flaw in Kapler, but other problems are becoming a nightmare now for the Giants.
Oakland staged a late rally in the ninth inning Friday evening against Giants’ closer Trevor Gott.
After getting the first out, Gott lost his composure after allowing a home run off Matt Olson, whose first seven hits of the year had left the yard before the streak ended with a single on Sunday and hit an additional two going three-for-five.
Gott would walk Mark Canha, unable to locate the strike zone. Defensive miscues by Wilmer Flores and Brandon Crawford allowed Canha and Robbie Grossman to reach second and first, respectively.
Flores never tagged first base and Crawford did not keep his foot on second base before the ball reached his glove.
A walk to Khris Davis set up Stephen Piscotty as the former Stanford product delivered a game-tying grand slam to left field. A dugout once quiet, full of noise after rallying for five runs. Oakland would score in the tenth to complete the comeback.
With thunderstorms rolling into the Bay Area late Saturday, perhaps lightning could not strike twice for the Giants. Once again, the Giants got a superb start from Kevin Gausman, who struck out a career-high 11 batter as San Francisco looked to get over Friday’s disaster.
Not going to pull the plug, Kapler chose to let Gott go in to redeem himself for a save opportunity in the ninth. Unlike Bruce Bochy, the current skipper has a longer leash with his pitchers.
Not giving in, Oakland got to work with Sean Murphy hitting a solo home run to cut the lead to 6-4. A miscue by Hunter Pence in the outfield allowed Tony Kemp to reach second.
Gott walked Olson, who hit his team-leading eighth home run back in the sixth inning, bringing Canha as the go-ahead run to the plate.
Down to the final out and strike, the San Jose native had the mindset of getting a pitch to make solid contact.
On a two-strike fastball delivery, Canha connected, sending the Oakland dugout into another jubilant frenzy. Liam Hendriks came on for the save, taking what appeared to be another sure-victory for the Giants.
Sunday’s matchup became an offensive flex of muscle by the Athletics’ bat, not waiting for the ninth inning to come around in a 15-3 series sweep.
A half-inning lasting over 30 minutes, Oakland tagged San Francisco for nine runs. Chad Pinder, Marcus Semien, and Piscotty all hit home runs with Piscotty’s blast clearing the left-field bleachers and onto the concourse.
Oakland came to Oracle Park as advertised, being one of the best clubs over a third into the short season. A stacked lineup with the capabilities of playing long ball or small ball depending on the situation.
The starters for Oakland are rounding into form after tough beginnings. Mike Fiers went six innings allowing only two earned runs.
Sean Manaea put in his best effort with five innings after struggling to put away batters in fourth innings. He got into a jam again but managed to come away unscathed.
Jesus Luzardo struggled in the series opener, lasting 3.1 innings after going five-plus in his previous two outings.
He left pitches hanging with the most significant damage coming from a Pence three-run homerun. Oakland picked him up in the late stages to avoid the loss but will be one start he wants to forget and move on.
With the playoffs, the likely outcome, maintaining the offensive production, is critical for the Athletics to shake off early postseason woes. Davis is starting to gain traction at the plate after a terrible slump contributed to Oakland’s early struggles.
Currently, with the best record in MLB, the Oakland Athletics are a team not to take lightly and can match up with the best.
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The SF Giants haven’t enjoyed the same fortuitous start that the Oakland Athletics have.
For the SF Giants, torture resonates being the unofficial slogan during the championship runs. The new informal phrase is similar – Torture: Gable Kapler edition. Add to the list of keeping Gott in as closer another blunder.
Instead of taking the series, Kapler managed to choke away leads and leave the ballpark with a loss. His decision to leave Gott in the game is baffling, only heightening the glaring errors made around the diamond.
Kapler is unconventional in his approach to managing the game. His choices of waiting to the last minute to announce a starter or picking any reliever to warm up in the bullpen are just a few examples.
Unlike the old-school style seen of Bochy, advanced analytics drive the lineup choices now with Farhan Zaidi commanding the operations.
Two stunning losses coupled with a blowout beatdown leave the Giants searching for answers. Logan Webb could not keep the momentum before getting pulled.
Wandy Peralta fell apart after his first pitch to Pinder sailed into the bleachers. Dereck Rodriguez followed suit in not keeping his pitches down, falling victim to the swinging A’s.
Unless the mistakes clean up, the Giants have no chance to earn a spot in the playoffs. The growing pains of a franchise transitioning under Zaidi are evident as Kapler’s coaching staff is trying to find consistency amongst the players.
Still, the blunders made by Kapler are unacceptable as a big-league manager.
Oakland and San Francisco are going on different paths after the A’s miraculously came away victors to the dismay of the Giants. The Bay Bridge Series shows that a team is never out until the final pitch.