It’s time for the rivalry that no one believes in but everyone enjoys nonetheless: the San Francisco Giants vs. the Oakland A’s. Also known as the Battle of the Bay, or Farhan Zaidi’s personal “how it started vs. how it’s going” meme come to life, if you’re not into the whole brevity thing.
The two Bay Area teams have both received criticism for offseason frugality. The A’s are back on their BS, opting to trade pretty much every good player on their roster so that they don’t have to pay them when they reach free agency. It’s an eternal cycle. And the Giants watched superstars like Freddie Freeman, Max Scherzer, and Carlos Correa sign elsewhere without any hint of interest, and let their own All-Stars in Kevin Gausman and Kris Bryant walk, while signing less-heralded players like Carlos Rodón (who opens this series) and Joc Pederson for smaller deals.
Surprisingly, the strategy has worked out decently for the A’s, who look the part of a team that will contend in the playoffs. And unsurprisingly, the strategy has worked out brilliantly for the Giants, who yet again find themselves battling the Los Angeles Dodgers for not just NL West supremacy, but the title of best team in baseball.
And now the two NorCal teams clash.
A note for Bay Area residents who are going to the games: Wednesday’s game starts 15 minutes before the Golden State Warriors home playoff game, so Mission Bay travel is going to be a disaster. Plan accordingly!
Also of note: because of said Warriors game, Wednesday’s Giants game is on NBC Sports Bay Area+.
Who: San Francisco Giants vs. Oakland Athletics
Where: Chase Center, San Francisco, California
When: Tuesday (6:45 p.m. PT) and Wednesday (6:45 p.m. PT)
National broadcasts: Tuesday (MLB Network, out of market only)
Tuesday: Carlos Rodón vs. Daulton Jefferies
Wednesday: TBD vs. Paul Blackburn
Where they stand
Record: 12-5, 2nd in the NL West
Run differential: +39, 2nd in the NL
Momentum: 4-game winning streak, 7-3 in their last 10 games
Record: 9-8, 3rd in the AL West
Run differential: +9, 5th in the AL
Momentum: 1-game winning streak, 5-5 in their last 10 games
Three Giants to watch
Carlos Rodón: A year ago Rodón finished eighth among all MLB pitchers in WAR, despite being just 77th in innings pitched. This year he’s tied for 2nd in WAR ... while being tied for 40th in innings pitched. It’s hard to believe that Tuesday will be just his fourth start as a Giant but, suffice to say, we’re all very excited for it.
Joc Pederson: Here’s what Pederson’s done over his last three games: 6-10, 3 home runs, 1 double, 6 RBI, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts. He’s been one of the best hitters in baseball and, despite that, been fully in support of the Giants replacing him with Austin Slater whenever there’s a lefty on the mound, even when he’s in the midst of an epic game. Just a perfect fit. I’m beginning to think that Zaidi knows what he’s doing.
Luis González: González was a standout in Spring Training, and a stud in AAA before getting a quick call up. And so far he’s made it worthwhile for the Giants, as he’s hit 4-13 with a home run. And that home run? It broke a tie with two outs in the ninth inning of Monday’s game, and was the first big league dinger of his career. With the Giants facing a pair of righties, and Mike Yastrzemski still on the COVID list (and Steven Duggar on the IL), González is going to be relied upon in this series.
Three A’s to watch
Daulton Jefferies: Jefferies is having quite a lovely year, as he’s allowed only two earned runs in 15.1 innings of work. He does it with quite an old school approach: his command is stellar and his changeup is lovely, and he’s struck out only 18 batters in 32.1 big league innings for his career. There are two types of pitchers that I love watching the Giants face: those who issue a lot of walks, and those who struggle to record strikeouts. Jefferies is emphatically not the former ... but emphatically the latter.
Paul Blackburn: In a similar vein we have Wednesday’s starter, Blackburn. The righty has been excellent with his strikeouts and walks to start 2022, posting 14 Ks to just a single free pass in 15 innings. But in his career prior to this year? 77 strikeouts to 38 walks in 138 innings.
Sean Murphy: The A’s are sorely lacking for good offensive players after trading away Matt Olson and Matt Chapman — they rank 22nd in the Majors in wRC+, hitting 88% as well as the average MLB club. But it’s through no fault of their catcher Murphy, a Gold Glove winner who is hitting .242/.282/.515 to open the season. The Giants will have their opportunities with Murphy, as he’s a bit of a hacker — he’s a career .225 hitter, and he’s drawn just two walks this season while striking out 22 times. But when he makes contact he can hit the heck out of the baseball.
A two-game series offers fewer options for predictions, so go get it.
Who wins the series?
This poll is closed