Just one month ago, the Oakland Athletics and the San Francisco Giants were the 2 best teams in baseball. A lot can change in a one month span. A 9.5 game lead in the division can evaporate. A once reliable closer can be vanquished (ok, this is true for both teams at one point or another). Prospects can come up, and actually make a struggling team look better by comparison. Obviously, these are about the Giants. The Athletics on the other hand have been winnings consistently. They may lose a couple games here and there, but then go on to sweep a series or two. Sweeping them only makes them angry.
Fun fact: The A’s have only been shut out 4 times this season. The Giants were shut out 3 times on their last homestand.
With the Giants coming to O.Co for a 2 game set, let’s compare the two teams and get you ready for what should be a fun series, if you’re an A’s fan. The Giants offense has struggled the past 30 days, with only Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval collecting over 10 RBI in that span.
The A’s on the other hand, have 7 players with 10+ RBI, led by Yoenis Cespedes‘ 16. The difference between the teams is the difference between the A’s and every team: a player is put into a situation where they are likely to succeed. Derek Norris has gathered 49 ABs in the past 30 days. He also has 10 RBI and is an All-Star.
Most Giants’ players had between 85-105 ABs in this span. 4 of the 7 RBI guys for the A’s are Norris (49 AB), Jaso (72), Vogt (74) and Crisp (85). Even 4th outfielder Craig Gentry got in on the action. He collected 16 hits and 8 runs in limited time. “But that’s just because other guys drove him in.” Not so fast. He also had 5 steals, which means that he got himself into scoring position nearly 1/3 of the time.
Now you’re caught up on the 2 teams. Let’s look at this series in particular.
Giants’ fans will likely complain because Tim Lincecum, their hottest pitcher, will not pitch in the series. Yes, he has pitched well, but 2 of his last 3 outings were against the Padres. Not exactly Murderer’s Row. If he were to pitch, it would be against recently acquired Jeff Samardzija, who allowed 3 ER in 7 IP against the Giants earlier this season, in one of his 2 wins with the Cubs. That was also when the Giants were hot. Now, imagine their cold bats going against Samardzija. So we’re square.
We don’t even need to talk about the Cain/Hammel match-up because the Giants have a propensity for losing Cain’s starts. There’s one for the green and gold.
Over the past month, Vogelsong is 1-3 with a 4.97 ERA. Over that same stretch, Chavez is 1-2 with a 3.72. If any game has the potential for an offensive burst, it’s game one. I’m seeing a bullpen game here, with the A’s having the more solid group at the moment, they get the win.
Bumgarner is deservedly and All-Star. He has been the Giants best pitcher for a couple of seasons now, but he has been struggling a little as of late. Oddly enough, these struggles occur at AT&T. His start will be come at O.Co however. Mad Bum has a 5.16 ERA at home and a 1.32 ERA on the road. He must get distracted by the sound of (insert your favorite AT&T ride here) at home. Gray will need to be on top of his game on Tuesday night. This game could go either way.
Lastly, there is Kazmir and Hudson. Both are having great seasons, but Hudson has been roughed up a little as of late, to the tune of a 4.21 ERA in the past month. In that same span, Kazmir has posted a 2.80. Couple that with the A’s superior offense, and Kazmir should come out with the victory.
Personally, I’d love to see Gentry/Cespedes/Crisp put one in triples alley and watch them fly around the bases. Of course if the series doesn’t go as planned, A’s fans still have the joy of watching Michael Morse attempt to play defense once they get back to AT&T.
It’s always exciting when the Athletics and Giants battle for bragging rights. Most years it’s a clean split. This year it could be a clean sweep.