It’s time for the Bay Bridge series, which MLB tries to market as a rivalry even though none of the players and roughly three of the fans see it that way.
More importantly, it’s a home series for the San Francisco Giants. Their last 10 games have been on the road, as they bounced from Denver to Los Angeles to Houston. They were rewarded with a Thursday off day — their first since July 27 — and now get to play in their sweet, beautiful home park.
That’s the good news. The bad news is they play the Oakland A’s, who are one of the best teams in baseball, and who also had Thursday off, and who aren’t even tired from traveling since it’s basically a home game in a different ballpark for them.
Who: San Francisco Giants vs. Oakland Athletics
Where: Oracle Park, San Francisco, California
When: Friday (6:45 p.m.), Saturday (4:07 p.m.), and Sunday (1:05 p.m.)
National broadcasts: Saturday (Fox)
Where they stand
San Francisco Giants
Record: 8-12, fifth place in the NL West
Run differential: -29, ninth in the MLB West
Postseason standing: Outside of the NL playoffs, but not by much
Current momentum: Lost one in a row
Record: 13-6, first place in the AL West
Run differential: +20, third in the MLB West
Postseason standing: Number one seed in the AL
Current momentum: Won one in a row
Three Giants to watch
Kevin Gausman: Gausman was utterly spectacular in his last game, dominating the Los Angeles Dodgers before Gabe Kapler curiously took him out of the game after just 80 pitches. Gausman wasn’t thrilled (justifiably), but he’ll get a chance to get back on the mound against another strong offense. He’s been dealing this year, with 23 strikeouts to just 2 walks.
Hunter Pence: The highlight of the road trip might have Pence’s game on Tuesday, when he broke out of his slump with a three-run home run and a single that helped the Giants mount a late comeback that led to a win. The A’s are scheduled to send two lefties to the mound in this series, so expect to see Pence get some more opportunities.
Evan Longoria: After missing the first week due to an injury, Longoria started the season as hot as hot can be. It’s mostly been downhill since then, though. The Giants could greatly use his presence in the middle of the lineup, and with two left starters due up, he’s got a chance to do some damage.
Three A’s to watch
Jesús Luzardo: Luzardo, 22, is an ace in the making. He has a spectacular fastball and slider, and while he’ll surely get better as the years go on, he’s not a “watch him develop” prospect — he’s special already.
Robbie Grossman: Grossman has been a tiny bit better than replacement level for the entirety of his career. But this year he’s come flying out of the box. The switch-hitter enters the series hitting 14-45 with 3 home runs, 4 doubles, and 9 walks.
Frankie Montas: The one right-handed pitcher that the Giants will face is Montas, who has 22 strikeouts in 23 innings, and a 2.42 FIP.
Best case/worst case
Best case scenario: The Giants are at home, and throwing their best pitchers at the A’s. It’s a highly winnable series, even against a spectacular A’s team. The best case is winning two games, with pitchers going deep so the bullpen can rest, and a few bats starting to break out.
Worst case scenario: The A’s are really good, and the Giants are not. A sweep that has the Giants very outside the playoff race is definitely in play.
I want to believe, but... A’s 2-1.