Yes, it’s the A’s again, but this time, the Giants won’t be handicapped by having their pitcher hit. They’ll be able to use a designated hitter, allowing them to field a lineup with [checks notes] two catchers in it. But! These are no ordinary catchers! One of them is Buster Posey who... probably won’t be catching all that much, but will be working counts, taking the occasional walk, and gently bopping singles up the middle.
Unless the cortisone shot he received in his ailing right hip really does do the trick and help him regain his power stroke, in which case, he’ll be smashing singles up the middle and occasionally hitting some doubles. The other catcher will, of course, be the actual catcher, Nick Hundley, who’s been slugging around .500 all season long (.518 since June 2nd). What does any of this have to do with the team the Giants will be playing this weekend after the All-Star Game? Well, if the Giants have any shot of winning a game in this series, let alone the series itself, they’ll need to score lots and lots and lots of runs.
That’s not something the team has been capable of doing since the start of July, averaging a mere 3.64 runs per game. Since June 1st, it’s 4.02 runs per game, also not stellar. For comparison, the A’s have averaged 5.13 runs since June 1st, and 4.69 (nice) since July 1st. They’re also 20-6 over their last 26 and 26-14 since June 1st. And, as we just saw last weekend, they can hit the Giants to death and smother their offense to death in all facets of their pitching.
We may never know the secret of Blake Treinen’s 98 mph sinker, but it is terrifying. If you’re a Giants hitter, you don’t want to be trailing in the ninth inning because you don’t want him to murder you with that pitch. The Giants’ only win in last weekend’s series was a 7-1 blowout that was 100% because the A’s handed them the game.
There was a balk —
Giants score first. pic.twitter.com/CNkM8tj1fe— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) July 14, 2018
And a total collapse by Santiago Casilla —
Well, the Giants will be facing Edwin Jackson again to kick-off the series, but Santiago Casilla was released by the A’s and won’t be available for the Giants to knock around. The A’s have trimmed the fat and distilled their essence into a semi-Astros squad.
But they’re still the A’s, and their grim fascination with trolling the Giants will reach a frenzy this weekend:
This season, the A’s are celebrating their 50th anniversary in Oakland, and it’s no coincidence that the team chose the Bay Bridge series to honor the 1989 team that beat the Giants in the World Series. The Loma Prieta earthquake struck just before the start of Game 3, and the A’s had only subdued celebrations after winning the title. The team will address that Saturday with a parade around the warning track for the surviving members of the team; starter Bob Welch died in 2014, outfielder Dave Henderson in 2015 and utility man Tony Philips in 2016.
Just like bat flips are always good no matter the occasion, trolling another team and their fanbase is always a good thing no matter the circumstances. The level of aggression the A’s have shown towards the Giants this century (starting with the “While They Were Building A Stadium, We Were Building A Team” ad campaign) has always been sold as “all in good fun”, but we know from our encounters with A’s fans that there’s a bit of an edge to it, like Sacramento Kings fans watching Warriors fans, knowing their team will never ascend to such heights.
There’s simply no reason to think that 55,000 drunk fans will get any ideas or that nobody will go too far. This is just baseball, after all, and we should all look forward to the next idea the A’s come up with to dunk on the Giants. Anything short of “win a World Series” will be good for a laugh.
As Kenny noted in his series preview for the Astros, the Giants are totally boned against them. The Giants just can’t compete against AL Super Teams. The A’s might not be the Astros, but they’re close enough at this point.
Besides, this Bay Bridge Series has been a little bit wobbly for the Giants over the last 5 years, now 11-14 as they head into these three games at the Coliseum. They would need to sweep the A’s this weekend to even up that 5-year stretch, but the chances of that happening are... yeah. Just be glad that baseball is back.
Hitter to watch: Tempted to say Mark Canha here, but Khris Davis went 1-for-6 with 2 strikeouts in the AT&T Park series. He’ll be DHing full-time this weekend and likely show us all why his nickname is Khrush Davis.
Pitcher to watch: Trevor Cahill has been a bit of an enigma for the Giants his whole career, getting them easily at times and other times not. That probably has a lot to do with the effectiveness of his sinker. The Giants might very well be mired in a bit of an offensive slump, but he’s also had “too much rest”, which can sometimes be bad for sinkerballers. At least, that’s what they say. He starts Saturday night’s game and if the Giants don’t figure out Edwin Jackson on Friday, might represent their best chance for a win in the series.
Prediction: Giants somehow win 1 out of 3, mirroring last weekend. This will put the A’s at an all-time series advantage of 57-63 (57-67 if you include the 1989 World Series, which everyone involved with the A’s most definitely does).