Last week, I suggested that fans of the San Francisco Giants root, root for the hometown team — the Oakland Athletics — against their vile owner, John Fisher. The response to my call to action was... mixed.
Fans at Oracle leaned in —
— regulars on this site were less than enthused. I thought it was worth supporting fans of another team, most are thrilled at the prospect of watching people they hate die a slow, painful death. As an Irish Catholic, I get it. Fair enough.
The Giants swept that two-gamer against the A’s as they continue their run of historic futility. They might not top the 1962 Mets for most losses in a single season, but they’re still in the running to tie the 2003 Tigers (43-119) or the 1916 Philadelphia A’s (36-117) or the 2018 Orioles (47-115) and 1935 Braves (38-115). It’s a lot of losing and it’s not going to change anytime soon.
They’re 11-29 in their last 40 games, have the worst pitching in the game, the third-worst offense in the game, but their defense is ranked 19th (-4.4 Defensive Runs Above Average), which is three spots better than the Dodgers (-10), who they just got clobbered by.
Think of the A’s as one big morass the Giants just have to work through when they’re not going around it. They can see where and how to get where they need to go, but there’s just that nonzero chance that they could slip and fall flat on their face right in the middle of it. After a trio of gutty wins against division rival Diamondbacks and holding the 5th-best lineup in baseball to 9 runs in 3 games, they should be setup to take down the A’s.
But do you remember when the Giants ran off that 10-game winning streak back in June? It began when they were 32-32. After they reached 42-32, they went 5-9. That’s when they ripped off 7 wins in a row. Which culminated in a 6-game losing streak. That first A’s series kicked off a 7-2 homestand and now they’ll play almost another home game in Oakland. Can they keep it going or are they about to stumble into another losing streak?
The Giants’ offense was dead last in July, and it has remained that way through the first few days of August. Their 92 runs over their last 28 games is the lowest total in Baseball. The Rockies (98) and Rays (94) have played fewer games than the Giants (24 and 26, respectively) and have still managed to scratch across more runs.
You might think that it’s all because they lost Thairo Estrada and that his probable return this weekend will be just what the lineup needs, but I submit to you the following pieces of evidence:
Exhibit A - Thairo Estrada’s June
His last game before the fracture was July 2nd. Recall that he missed some of June because of a wrist sprain he suffered at the end of May. In the 23 games after his return from the sprain (23 games; 109 PA) he hit .217/.294/.371 (.665 OPS) with 6 walks against 30 strikeouts. He did have 9 extra base hits (3 home runs and 6 doubles) and played sharp defense at second base; BUT, his bat was not the thing holding the lineup together.
Exhibit B - The Giants wRC+ with Mitch Haniger
Now, Mitch Haniger was not having a good season up to his injury on June 13th, but he was starting to come around with the bat. On May 25, he went 0-for-3 with a walk and his line fell to a season low .521 OPS. After that game, Thairo Estrada hit the IL.
After that game, beginning May 26, and for his next 16 games (67 PA), he hit .283/.358/.483 (.842 OPS). During that game stretch, the Giants had the best lineup in Baseball (125 wRC+). Yes, he and Thairo Estrada managed to play together within a very narrow window (8 games — June 6-13), and during that time, Estrada hit all three of his home runs and slashed .257/.350/.600 (.950 OPS). I’m not saying that Mitch Haniger is the key to the lineup, only that it’s been since he’s been out of the lineup that team has spiraled out of control.
They’re missing that one strong bat to compliment everybody else. Can AJ Pollock’s veteran savvy be that bat and can he be enough against a bunch of rookies and castoffs in over their heads on the Oakland side?
Who: San Francisco Giants vs. Oakland Athletics
Where: Oakland Coliseum, Oakland, California
When: Saturday (4:07pm PT), Sunday (1:07pm PT)
National broadcasts: Sunday — MLB Network simulcast
Saturday: TBA vs. TBA
Sunday: TBA vs. TBA
Where they stand
Record: 30-80, 5th in AL West
Run differential: -274, 15th in AL
Postseason standing: 30.0 games back of Wild Card, 33.5 games out of the division
Momentum: 4-game losing streak; 3-7 in their last 10 games
Record: 61-49, 2nd in NL West
Run differential: +27, 5th in the NL
Postseason standing: +2.5 up in Wild Card, 2.5 games out of the division
Momentum: 3-game winning streak; 7-3 in their last 10 games
A’s to watch
Paul Blackburn? You think he’ll pitch in this series? I’ve got two TBAs on screen as I type this. Blackburn is 2-0 in 2 career starts against the Giants with 8 strikouts in 11 innings pitched. He’s also allowed 5 hits. He pitched in the Bay Bridge series last year in the A’s 1-0 win on April 27th.
Tyler Soderstrom: He was the A’s first round pick in the 2020 draft and last night he hit his first major league home run. He’s a left-handed hitter from from Turlock — drafted out of Turlock High School, too, so this is going to be a very NorCal-y series just for him. If he winds up bashing in the Giants’ skulls I’m going to start calling him Tyler Soda Stream to numb my pain.
Zach Gelof: The Giants were able to throw him an 0-for-7 in their series last week, but since then he’s hit four home runs in six games — two against the Rockies in Colorado and two against the Dodgers in LA. The rookie has played in just 17 major league games, and against just six total teams, but only the Giants and Red Sox have kept him hitless. Against everybody else, he’s 16-for-59 (.271) with 5 homers, 4 doubles, and a triple with 5 walks against 15 strikeouts.
Giants to watch
Thairo Estrada: If he’s back, let’s see if he’s healthy. It really will be like adding an All-Star caliber player back to the roster, even with that 30-day slump preceding his departure.
LaMonte Wade Jr.: He basically won the series against the Diamondbacks, going 4-for-10 with two homers in the three wins. The Giants are 54-41 with him in the lineup and he has a .396 on base percentage (7th in MLB).
Luis Matos: This is another situation where he gets to continue his development against what would be Triple-A pitching were he still in Sacramento.
Brandon Crawford: His final series in Oakland Coliseum! There’s a real sunrise, sunset thing going on here, too, because Tyler Soderstrom grew up a Giants fan. He’s just a career .250/.313/.385 guy in Oakland with 3 home runs, but he, he homered and hit a triple in that Diamondbacks series. Anything’s possible!
Giants vs. A’s - How will it go?
This poll is closed
Giants win Bridge Trophy
Giants do not win Bridge Trophy