Oakland Athletics Capitalize on Giants’ Mistakes
By Mark Sigmon
I have to admit that I was not really looking forward to watching the Oakland Athletics playing the San Francisco Giants this year. The Giants came into the Bay Bridge Series with the most victories in baseball. The A’s came into the series with one of the worst records in baseball.
I have watched both teams and one thing that I have noticed about the Giants is that they do not beat themselves. San Francisco has a veteran team. The Giants play with a sharpness and a crispness that enables them to win a lot of games. It seems that the Giants do not always go out and beat another team, they just wait for the other team to beat themselves. That is why I am surprised that the A’s are doing as well as they are against the Giants. Often times, the A’s play sloppy. They lead the league in errors. Somehow, the A’s seem to blow a lot of games.
I was actually at Monday night’s game. Jeff Samardzija pitched five very good innings and one very bad inning. In the second inning, Marcus Semien got to him for a three-run home run. Khris Davis and Jed Lowrie also got RBI hits in the second. Daniel Mengden was the story of the game. He was dealing at AT&T park.
Giants fans got to the game late and left early. It’s just me, but I hate it when the A’s are getting stomped and fans of another team are taunting the Green and Gold faithful. So when the A’s were blowing out the Giants, I just applauded quietly. I did have words after the game with a Giants fan who was talking about San Francisco getting Josh Reddick. I am not sure if the Giants farm system has anyone the A’s really need.
Tuesday night’s game was enough to drive both A’s and Giants fans crazy. Kendall Graveman got the start. He was good, but not great. He pitched five gutty innings and gave up four runs. In the top of the sixth, the A’s had scored twice, and there were two outs when Semien grounded a ball down to third. Conor Gillaspie threw wide of first and Semien was safe. With that extra out, the A’s scored two more runs to take a 5-4 lead. It was one of the turning points in the game. The Giants made an error and the A’s took advantage.
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Then, in the bottom of the sixth, Bob Melvin brought in John Axford, and the relief pitcher continued his woeful ways. He faced three batters and gave up a single, a walk and a double that tied up the game. Axford failed to record an out and he left with go ahead runs on second and third. Marc Rzepczynski came in and got two quick outs. It looked like the A’s might escape with the tie intact, but Brandon Crawford ripped a three-run triple to left center and the A’s were down by three. Just as A’s fans were cursing Axford for blowing yet another game, the A’s rallied and the Giants bullpen imploded by giving up 8 runs in two innings. The key blow was Jake Smolinski‘s three-run blast to put the A’s ahead for good.
On Wednesday night, the Giants played like a last place team, and the A’s looked like All-Stars. It was amazing to see Jose Pagan misplay a single into a triple, and later drop a long fly ball. It was actually kind of fun to watch Jake Peavy have a meltdown on the mound. The Giants made many mistakes including two dropped pop-ups, and an illegal slide into second. The A’s took advantage every time. Sean Manaea returned from the disabled list and pitched six shutout innings. While Peavy was throwing a temper tantrum on the mound, Manaea was unflappable.
The A’s have clinched a series win, and they will be going for the sweep Thursday night. Oakland is finally getting healthy and the team is playing well. The timing could not be better.
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If the last couple weeks are any indications, this Oakland Athletics team could actually be pretty good. The team has struggled, but they are only seven games back in the wild card race. Stranger things have happened.