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6 Best things from the A’s-Giants series in Oakland

The A’s win the 2018 Bay Bridge Series!

No tiebreaker needed.
Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images

The Oakland A’s and San Francisco Giants were slated to play six games this season, and all six are now completed and in the books. We already took a closer look at the first set in AT&T Park, so now let’s do the same for the three dates at the Coliseum this past weekend.

1. The A’s won, again!

Oakland emerged from the All-Star break as the hottest team in MLB. They’d wrapped up the season’s traditional first half on a 21-6 run, and vaulted themselves into legitimate postseason contention. The Giants aren’t at the same level but neither is their NL competition, leaving them within reach of their weaksauce division and not-so-Wild Card. Therefore, there was more at stake in these games than just local pride.

After taking two of three in this latest series, the A’s now stand at 57-43 overall. They kept pace with the Mariners even though Seattle was facing the doormat White Sox, so Oakland is still only three games out of the second AL Wild Card.

If we’re being honest, the A’s didn’t play their best ball over the weekend. In the opener they managed only four hits and went down meekly, and in the second game they only had two hits entering the 9th inning. Some uncharacteristic wildness from Madison Bumgarner helped salvage Game 2, though, and a power display by Khrush Davis and Matt Olson saved the day in Game 3, but the inconsistent bats nearly cost them and so did their inability to put the Giants away when it counted.

Fortunately it all ended well, with the A’s on top where they belong. They still haven’t lost a game this season when trailing after the 7th or 8th innings, and they’re not really losing much at all anymore. They haven’t dropped consecutive games since June 14-15, over a month ago, and they last lost a series in mid-June against the Astros — they’ve won nine series and split one since then. Holy Toledo!

Game 1 recap: Giants 5, A’s 1
Game 2 recap: A’s 4, Giants 3 (11 inn)
Game 3 recap: A’s 6, Giants 5 (10 inn)

2. Oakland claims the trophy

The standings are the most important thing right now, but there’s still time to enjoy the other aspect of beating the Giants. This season marked the introduction of the trophy known as The Bridge, which will be awarded to the winner of the rivalry series each year. There was a dumb tiebreaker attached, but fortunately it didn’t come to that as the A’s won outright 4-2 in the six games. Hold it high, Bob!

Enhance.

Enhance.

That’s more like it.

Nearly three decades ago the A’s won another trophy after beating the Giants, so this is familiar territory. But it still feels good every time.

3. The 1989 reunion

Speaking of the previous trophy, the A’s spent some time celebrating that over the weekend as well. Oakland swept San Francisco in the 1989 World Series, but the whole thing got overshadowed by the Loma Prieta Earthquake, one of those moments in life that’s bigger than sports. This isn’t the first time the team has held a reunion for the champs, but it never gets old.

And the trophy itself.

And Jose, doing his thing.

There was a pre-game parade, and throughout the weekend past greats like Terry Steinbach and Dennis Eckersley joined the broadcast booth to reminisce. Stop by anytime, fellas.

4. Attendance record

Throughout the A’s history in Oakland they’ve struggled to fill their stadium, and they often find themselves as the butt of jokes about the low attendance. That wasn’t the case this weekend, though, as the house was packed for all three games. On Saturday they upped the ante by opening up the seats on Mount Davis for the first time in 13 years, and the result was an all-time record for the largest baseball crowd at the Coliseum. The 56,310 fans were also the highest attendance for any MLB game at any stadium this season.

All told, the A’s welcomed a total of 146,290 heads over the three-game weekend. Not that anyone’s counting, but the Giants only got up to 125,819 in the AT&T series. Sure, that’s because the capacity of their stadium is smaller, but who’s fault is that? If you want to complain about limited capacity then you don’t get to celebrate that famous “sellout” streak, which was a direct result thereof.

5. Familia debuts

The contending A’s made a win-now trade over the weekend, acquiring relief pitcher Jeurys Familia from the Mets. He’s a recent All-Star and was serving as New York’s closer this season, so he’s a major addition to Oakland’s already strong bullpen.

It didn’t take long for us to see the new guy. He arrived at the Coliseum on Sunday about an hour before the first pitch, and a couple hours after that he found himself on the mound in a high-leverage situation.

The right-hander entered in the 9th inning of a tie game. He did allow a hit to his first batter, but he struck out the next one and then used his heavy sinker to get a grounder for a double play. He came back out for the 10th and retired the side in order, and when his teammates scored in the bottom of the frame he was awarded with the win. His velocity sat in the 96-97 mph range and touched 99, and his slider earned him a bunch of outs.

It was a great first impression for the newest member of the green and gold. Best yet, he succeeded for multiple innings, which has become a regular occurrence in Oakland’s bullpen — only once this year did the Mets ask him to record six outs, and only four times did they work him past one inning.

6. Two walk-offs

What better way to end a list than with a couple walk-offs? On both Saturday and Sunday, the game went to extra innings and Oakland won in their last at-bat. They’ve now done so six times this season.

To be fair, neither of these should have been necessary. On Saturday, Blake Treinen earned a swing-and-miss for Strike 3 and what should have been the final out, but catcher Josh Phegley clanked the bouncing slider and allowed the runner to reach base. He scored one pitch later, with a minor assist from a chair, and the A’s had to win it again in extras. Jonathan Lucroy served as the hero in the end.

Then on Sunday, Oakland looked in complete control but the Giants dropped in multiple pure-luck bloopers to fuel a save-blowing rally in the 7th. Matt Chapman eventually returned the favor in the 11th, though, which an even luckier hit past a Gold Glove shortstop to bring in the game-winner.

There was something missing from the occasions: the celebratory pie. But hey, time’s change. This is a new group of players and they’ll have their own new identity.

These wins weren’t pretty, but they were wins. There’s no column in the standings for aesthetics. The A’s faced adversity at every turn, sometimes of their own making and other times simply bad luck, and they came through victorious. That’s something that contending teams need to be able to do.

Congrats to the A’s on a successful weekend at home, and a memorable triumph in the 2018 Bay Bridge interleague series! Now let’s bring home that Wild Card.