The Oakland A's came in to Thursday night's Bay Bridge Series finale with a chance at making history. Completing a regular season series sweep would be a first in the 20 years of interleague play the two teams have completed. Unfortunately, that feat would not become reality as the A's fell to a seemingly determined Giants bunch, led by staff ace Madison Bumgarner.
A's rookie starter Dillon Overton did not follow in the footsteps of his fellow rookie SPs Daniel Mengden and Sean Manaea, as Overton took the loss and ended with a brutal line of 3 innings pitched, 8 runs (all earned) on 8 hits and 3 walks with just 1 K. Overton gave up HRs to Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford and never looked in command of the game.
Susan Slusser reports Overton will be sent down to Nashville, presumably to allow for the return of Rich Hill AKA "The Bishop" to the rotation to start Saturday's game.
Despite the loss, the A's bats continued their 7 game streak of putting up 6 runs or more, but alas, it was not enough to keep up with the Giants' bats on this night.
After an early Marcus Semien home run (his 16th) gave the A's a quick 1-0 lead, the pummeling of Overton commenced in the top of the 3rd. While Overton escaped the 1st and 2nd with single base runners, the 3rd would not follow suit. Madison Bumgarner, batting in place of a DH in an AL park per his manager's wishes, which was a first in 40 years, led off the inning with a double over Billy Burns that probably should have been caught. Denard Span then walked, followed by an Angel Pagan single and a two-run Brandon Belt ground rule double. With no outs and runners on 2nd and 3rd, Buster Posey rocked an Overton pitch for a 3 run home run and a 5-0 lead. Brandon Crawford then followed with a home run of his own before Overton finally recorded outs, finishing with another Bumgarner at bat, this time a pop out to end the inning. The 6 runs of damage struck an essentially fatal blow despite the A's hot bats of the last week.
The A's could not answer in the bottom half of the 3rd and the Giants plated two more off Overton in the top of the 4th, with back-to-back Span and Pagan doubles leading to both runs and pushing out Overton for newly-recalled Andrew Triggs. Triggs kept the damage fairly contained, but did yield the Pagan score on a Crawford base hit. The half inning ended with the Giants up 8-1 and a commanding lead in hand for Bumgarner.
The A's scored a run in the bottom half on a Jake Smolinski RBI base hit, plating Billy Butler from 2nd, which is notable. But Bumgarner would settle in for clean innings in the 5th and 6th.
After being recalled from AAA Nashville today, Triggs and Daniel Coulombe combined for 5 innings without yielding a run (aside from the inherited run in Triggs' initial half inning). The two young relievers did an admirable job giving the A's a chance to rally back.
The A's did show some rally in the 7th, as Smolinski led off with a single and Yonder Alonso closed the gap with a line shot 2-run home run, his 2nd in as many days and 3rd on the season. This closed the gap to 8-4 and provided some lift and belief, especially after Tuesday's wild comeback off the Giants relief corps.
The problem was, Fernando Rodriguez came in to pitch the 9th and could not find the plate. F-Rod yielded FIVE walks in 2/3 of an inning, which resulted in 4 Giants runs and a 12-4 cushion. It was not F-Rod's best day on the bump.
The A's did not go down without swinging a bit in the bottom of the 9th, however, as Smolinski again singled, and Burns followed with a two out double down the left field line. With men on 2nd and 3rd, Coco Crisp continued his hot hitting with a double to right center, which plated two. That would be it though, as Semien struck out swinging meekly to end the game - and series - at a 12-6 final.
For the second straight four game set, the A's failed to complete the four game sweep, although back-to-back 3-1 series wins over the rival Angels and Giants is certainly still room for celebration.
Tomorrow night the Pirates make a rare appearance in Oakland and Athletics' ace Sonny Gray takes the hill, hoping to continue to emerge out of an early season funk. Sonny has been pitching better since coming off a DL stint for a trap strain, and A's fans look with anticipation to see if the baby-faced dealer can restore his usual stuff and sit down the NL Central foe. Sonny will be followed by intriguing starts by Rich Hill, coming off the DL to start Saturday, and rookie mustachioed phenom Daniel Mengden on Sunday. Be sure to tune it here at Athletics Nation for the weekend series with the Bucs.