I hate the Bay Bridge Series. I really do. I’ve been very consistent with this opinion. It has nothing to do with my like or dislike of interleague play, or the fact that the Giants tend to play poorly, or the fact that Oakland Coliseum is a sad, forgotten hellhole of a stadium.
No, I hate the Bay Bridge Series because I actually really like the A’s. Those of you who listen to our podcast have heard Thomas berate me for my affection toward the Green and Gold. I grew up watching and rooting for both teams, in equal measure. When I went to college I started hanging out with Giants fans, and that’s when I really started following them more than the A’s. But I still feel for them.
First of all, I have a lot of respect for the organization. If you’ll indulge my nerdiness for just a moment, the 2012 A’s remind me of Ender’s Game. Ender gets stuck with the Dragon Army, a group of young launchies, all of them inexperienced, inept spazzes, and is told to make them into a winning team. But to read Ender’s Shadow, you find out that Bean actually figured out the market inefficiency of Battle School, and designed the Dragon Army to fit exactly to Ender’s strengths.
I was certain that the A’s were going to be awful this year. They traded away Gio Gonzalez and Trevor Cahill, who were both signed to team-friendly contracts, and sent Andrew Bailey to Boston. They signed Manny Ramirez and Bartolo Colon, who both have decently high upside, but seemed more like stopgaps until the team was competitive, a few years from now. Add to that the fact that the Texas Rangers are probably the best team in baseball, and the Los Angeles Pujols of Anaheim spent like they wanted to win, and suddenly the AL West looked like a pretty tough place to be.
Then they surprised everyone (me) when they snatched up Yoenis Cespedes, which seemed uncharacteristic for a team in a rebuilding year, a lot like the San Diego Padres trading for Huston Street after trading away Mat Latos. It just didn’t make sense.
But maybe, just maybe, Billy Beane knew something that we didn’t. He knew that the A’s could trade away their big-name stars, and that their replacements would be pretty darn good. Maybe Bean(e) designed the Dragon Army from the beginning to win, but did it so sneakily that nobody noticed.
I really do like the A’s, and I’m going to keep rooting for them. You know, when they’re playing against other teams.
Tonight’s game, though, was about as un-Bay Bridge Series as you could get. The Giants started the day 4th-worst in the NL with 3.71 Runs/Game, and the A’s are rock-bottom in the AL with just 3.54 R/G. Before tonight, the Giants had drawn just 104 walks in 38 games. The A’s are averaging 3 BB/9. Obvious result? 14 total runs scored, with the Giants drawing 9 walks (2 by Barry Zito). Weird game.
So, takeaways? Barry Zito looked pretty good. He gave up some hard contact and didn’t have his A stuff tonight, but seeing Zito as a guy who can give you 5 pretty good innings on a bad day is still a welcome sight. He walked just one and struck out five, and made Jemile Weeks look silly on a swinging strikeout in the third inning.
Before Thursday’s game, Angel Pagan had 6 walks in 2012. Now he has 12. Weird, how these things swing. Also, Melky Cabrera is awesome. Nice job, Giants Front Office.
I’m pretty upset with the way Travis Blackley was cold-shouldered. His final stats look pretty bad, but the vast majority of that came in his second-to-last and last appearance, and he was basically hung out to dry in those games. I don’t get why they let that happen, just like they did with Dan Otero.
Brandon Watch 2012:
Crawford: Dude hits doubles. Crawford has 26 hits on the year, and 10 of them are doubles. If he can stick with the good defense, as he seems to be getting over some mental hurdles, then the occasional extra-base hit is just icing on the cake.
Belt: 1-2 with a walk and sac fly, against a lefty pitcher. With yesterday’s great game, he might be getting more starts. Then again, he might be the waterboy tomorrow. Who knows?
Stats of the Game:
2: Games in Giants winning streak
15: Minimum number of days Matt Kemp is going to be on the Disabled List. Now would be a great chance to make up some ground, guys
15: Number of walks on the season by Gregor Blanco, leading the Giants
14: Walks by Brandon Belt in 2012
14: Career walks by Barry Zito
3: After tonight, number of intentional walks for Emmanuel Burriss
Bonus Stat of the Day: