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Runs! Just not enough of them...

The offense finally showed some life, but the pitching and defense dropped the ball figuratively and quite literally in the Bay Bridge Series finale

San Francisco Giants v Oakland Athletics Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

“Explosive” is a stretch, but compared to the barren desert landscape that has been the San Francisco Giants offensive offerings as of late, Sunday’s 6 runs against the Oakland A’s felt nuclear.

LaMonte Wade Jr. after his second RBI single of the day in the 5th: “I am become Death, destroyer of worlds.”

The offense had scored 6 runs total over the past three games and have anchored the bottom of the MLB in production with runners in scoring position. Unbelievably the Giants’ bats manufactured a run in the first inning, two their first time through the lineup against starter Luis Medina, and eventually plated four through the 3rd with three hits in their first four opportunities with RISP.

LaMonte Wade Jr. went 3 for 5 with 1 R and 2 RBI. Patrick Bailey reached base four times with 2 singles (1 from each side of the plate) and 2 walks with a run scored and an RBI.

By the end of the game, San Francisco collected 9 hits and worked 7 walks against Oakland pitching. As a team, the Giants went 5 for 16 with runners in scoring position, which is a .312 average—an substantial blip up from their cellar-dwelling .192 mark since July 1st.

The performance seemed to exorcise some demons at the plate—but gaps and room for improvement remain. San Francisco left 11 players on base, added on early but didn’t score after the 5th inning, and sustained themselves on bloop singles and grounders through infield gaps with no major extra base cash-ins.

The big knock of the day: Thairo Estrada’s surprise drag bunt single that brought in San Francisco’s 6th run.

Still, with the way the Giants’ defense and pitching have been playing, the spike in offense felt like it should be plenty, especially with Alex Cobb on the mound, especially with a well-rested bullpen, especially against Oakland.

The Giants lost 8-6.

We could blame the offense’s return to vapidity—going hitless while K’ing 8 times in the last 4 innings against four different Oakland relievers—but haven’t they been kicked around enough? 6 runs is 6 runs—teams expect to win with that kind of offensive production no matter how the runs score.

Alex Cobb left the game with a lead in the 6th but only after he had given up two of them in the early innings. Oakland battled back with a run of their own in the 1st and 2 runs in the 2nd (all three runs scoring with 2 outs).

Over 5.1 innings, he fanned only 3 Oakland hitters while allowing 5 extra base hits. Nick Allen, Oakland’s David Eckstein who had 1 HR on the season and 6 in his career, launched two off Cobb. The righty has given up 5 home runs in his last two starts.

5’8’’ in spikes and 166 LBS soaked, the glove-first shortstop jumped on a first pitch sinker with 2-outs and a man on to give the A’s a 3-2 lead in the 2nd. In the 5th, Allen pulled a truly awful 0-2 breaking ball down the line for a solo shot—his stature creating an optical illusion in the box.

How are they all the same height?

Down 6-3 at the time, the homer kicked off a streak of 5 unanswered runs for Oakland, aided by tag-team of Luke Jackson and Brandon Crawford.

Seth Brown chased Cobb from the game with 1-out in the 6th with his second extra base hit of the game.

Jackson took over and induced a crucial groundball from Brent Rooker that should’ve froze Brown at second while bagging the second out of the inning. Instead, Crawford spiked the throw and Wade could only corral the ball at first. Jackson then lost a 1-2 advantage to Jordan Diaz, walking him to load the bases, before serving up four-straight misses to DH Tyler Soderstrom to walk in the A’s 5th run. Shea Langeliers then pulled a 2-run single to left field to reclaim the lead they had lost in the 3rd.

It was maybe a bit puzzling why Jackson was left in to face Langeliers after consecutive walks, but the right-hander was really the only option given the string of right-handed hitters coming down the queue.

Scott Alexander was the only one warming in the bullpen and would be needed to face lefties JJ Bleday and Seth Brown at the top of Oakland’s lineup. It was too early to use Tyler Rogers and Ryan Walker had pitched the previous night and wasn’t the premier option given the situation. With a lead, Jackson was the leverage arm, he just didn’t get it done.

The A’s added on in the 7th after Michael Conforto lost a flyball in the sun. Battling the afternoon glare from a cloudless Oakland sky, the routine fly landed in his glove by chance and rolled free as Conforto fell to the ground. The scorekeeper ruled it a double (Brown’s third XBH) which set-up runners at third and second.

Needing a K, Kapler swapped Alexander for Walker, and Mark Kotsay countered with switch-hitting Tony Kemp to bat from the left side. Kemp lifted a fly to right, visible by Conforto but deep enough to score the insurance run.

The bats make up some ground while the pitching and defense slips—nice!

What happens when the Bay Bridge Series is split? Measure out half-way across the span between Oakland and San Francisco and punt that iron into water?

Nah, it’s just decided by who won the last game, which is a fitting compromise for an arbitrary competition. (Please read deep bitterness here: Hang that thing above the entrance to the Yerba Buena tunnel, unclaimed! If I can’t have my trophy, no one can!)

Two dropped games in Oakland feel ominous given the schedule’s looming teeth of Texas, Tampa, Philadelphia, and Atlanta. But this 2023 team also has a bit of reputation playing up or down given their opponents, making for an all-together stressful season. A series split with Oakland makes sense knowing how this team fared against Kansas City, Detroit and Washington.

First, a series against the transcendent Shohei Ohtani and his scuffling Angels.