The Oakland A’s swept their local rivals over the weekend, and it was a magnificent sight to behold.
On Friday, they trailed the last-place San Francisco Giants by five runs in the 9th inning but mounted a historic comeback to win in extras. On Saturday, they faced a three-run deficit in the 9th, against the same pitcher, and came back to win again. On Sunday, they took care of business earlier with a nine-run 5th inning, en route to a 15-3 rout.
It was a through beating from all angles, combining the torture of late-inning collapses with the hopelessness of being utterly blown out midway through a game. For one weekend at least, it was enough to make Giants fan stop believing. It even made the San Francisco sky weep Saturday night, in the middle of an August heat wave in California.
But the icing on top of this delicious sweep was the cast of characters who led the way. Virtually the whole A’s roster chipped in, but three hitters particularly got stupid, and each of them are local Bay Area products: Mark Canha of San Jose, Stephen Piscotty of Pleasanton, and Marcus Semien of Berkeley.
Oakland scored 30 runs in this series, and 19 of them were driven in by that hometown trio, plus two more times they were knocked in by other teammates. They also added five of the team’s nine homers, and 14 of the 35 hits.
- Canha: 6-for-12, HR, 3B, 2B, 6 RBI, 5 runs, 2 BB, 3 Ks, .594 xwOBA
- Piscotty: 4-for-11, 2 HR, 2B, 9 RBI, 2 runs, 2 BB, 2 Ks, .512 xwOBA
- Semien: 4-for-15, 2 HR, 2B, 4 RBI, 2 runs, 0 BB, 2 Ks, .428 xwOBA
Add ‘em up:
- The Bay: 14-for-38, 5 HR, 3B, 3 2B, 19 RBI, 9 runs, 4 BB, 7 Ks, .513 xwOBA
Those are mammoth numbers in any context, but their effect in these games was especially big. In the series opener, it was Piscotty’s grand slam in the 9th inning that stunningly tied the game, and then in the 10th it was Canha who hit the sac fly to scratch home the eventual winning run. In the sequel, it was Canha who came through in the 9th with a three-run dong to save Oakland at the last possible moment and give them the lead. In the finale, Piscotty drove in five runs and Canha and Semien each added a pair, accounting for 60% of the A’s season-high scoring output.
Piscotty’s slam set the tone for the series, including an impressive bat flip. The A’s hadn’t come back to win from this far down this late in a game since 1952, and the Giants hadn’t lost like this since 1929, before either club was even in the Bay.
In addition to all that offense, Canha also added an excellent defensive play. Filling in for the suspended Ramon Laureano in center field, he did his best Laser impression by darting back to the wall for a running, leaping catch, saving at least one run in the process.
After playing understudy to Piscotty on Friday, Canha took the role of the primary hero on Saturday. This unbelievable homer, nearly the maximum definition of clutch, ended any doubt that he is now the sole owner and proprietor of Oracle Park.
Sunday didn’t bring the same type of drama, but it was still enjoyable for one side’s fans. The game was tight through four innings, but in the 5th the green and gold went full Hulk. They brought 13 batters to the plate and scored nine runs, the most they’d put up in an inning against an NL team since the 1929 World Series.
It was still a ballgame when the local stars came around, and then it wasn’t anymore. With the score 4-2, Canha tripled in a pair, and Piscotty soon followed by hammering a three-run dinger. That made it 9-2, and Piscotty added a couple more on a double later. His homer, though, was the most legit hit of the day, traveling 454 feet and ranking as the longest and the hardest-hit of his career.
And let’s not forget Semien. He may not have been at the center of the most memorable moments of the weekend, but he was still a quietly important cog, which is precisely his style. On Saturday, his two-run homer opened the scoring for the day, even if the early lead didn’t stick.
Semien blasts a ball into the bullpen pic.twitter.com/z8DtN6D62o— A's on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) August 15, 2020
The Giants have a Bay Area representative in their lineup as well, in Brandon Crawford of Pleasanton. He homered on Sunday, but he did it off rookie James Kaprielian in the latter’s MLB debut. Crawford was the first batter Kaprielian ever faced in the bigs, and he went yard on the third pitch. Jeez, man, that’s just cruel.
As for the A’s hitters, they continued to pile up special moments in a 2020 season that has already been packed full of them in just over three weeks. It’s hard to imagine a more perfect version of the (regular season) Bay Bridge Series, and we may never see one quite this good again. Two incredible comebacks and one absurd blowout, all at the hands of three local stars displaying their peak powers for the rivalry showdown. Gas, brake, round trip.