Giants/A's Series Preview

And the cross-Bay slap fight continues...

The strength of the Giants/A’s rivalry is somewhere between overblown and nonexistent. It’s really cute that the East Bay has their own team now and everything, but it doesn’t affect the Giants. Well, except when the Giants get totally embarrassed in Oakland. When that happens, maybe the intensity ratchets up a little

It’s not like I’m gritting my teeth, rocking back and forth in my chair, whittling a stabbin’ stick, and muttering awful things about Cliff Pennington. The rivalry’s not quite there yet. But the embarrassment of the Oakland sweep last month does kind of sting. When you follow a team that allows 2.8 runs a game and scores 2.9 runs a game, sometimes those runs will be distributed in one of those wacky "held scoreless for 74 consecutive innings despite great starting pitching of your own" sequences. And, brother, those are so, so amusing.

So here’s hoping that it’s the A’s turn for one of those sequences. Remember that in 2007, the A’s broke the truce. Look at all of that beautiful symmetry. So sportsmanlike. So gentlemanly.

"Here, chap, we’ll take two of the contests this year, and you’ll take two."

"Splendid! We concur. But we’ll need an extra win in 2001, good sir."

"Not a problem. We will gladly exchange one for an extra win in 2002."

"Delightful! This is quite the mutually beneficial arrangement."

"Quite!"

Then in 2007, the truce was broken, with the A’s taking five of six. Ever since then, the gloves were taken off, and the slap fights have been epic. 2-0! 3-0! 4-1! Bases loaded pop-ups! Bases empty grounders! Every weak hitter for himself! It’s interesting that both teams have had a similar set of strengths and weaknesses over the last few seasons. Billy Beane and Brian Sabean both shop at the Garbage Hitter’s Emporium, but the only difference is that Sabean’s too embarrassed to clip coupons.

Hitter to watch:

Null set. This is an A’s/Giants game. But if you need to pick one, Daric Barton will do. Barton is a young, high-OBP, limited-power type who is just starting to flash his Mark Grace ceiling. If you want some laughs, try to guess how Barton would have been handled if he were on the Giants this year.

Well, Barty is our guy, and we’re not looking for other guys because we have a guy, and Barty’s our guy at first to start the year.

Barton starts the season 1-for-13

Well, Barty isn’t seeing it well right now, so we’re going to sit him against the tough left-handers.

Barton sits against Doug Davis

Well, Barty’s not in a platoon. Remember that.

The Giants play six out of seven games against left-handed starters. Barton gets one pinch-hit at-bat against Jonathan Broxton and strikes out.

Well, Barty’s going to need some time in Fresno to get his head straight. He’s scuffling pretty bad right now.

Pitcher to watch:

Vin Mazzaro is a decent enough young starter. He’s a much better option than Todd Wellemeyer for the last spot of a rotation, which is where he is now because of injuries to Brett Anderson and Justin Duchscherer. Again, he’s decent enough, with the potential to become a rotation fixture if a few things break his way. But right now, he probably has a bounce in his step. He’s waking up with an unusual vigor. He can throw a tighter breaking ball, his control is suddenly perfect, and he can hear the thoughts of the opposing hitters. Congratulations, Vin. You’re starting against Matt Cain. The improvements are temporary, so enjoy pitching like Bob Feller while it lasts.

Prediction:

Less scoring than most of the World Cup games this weekend.

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