That was a real kick in the pants. The Oakland A’s hosted the San Francisco Giants for the second half of the 2021 Bay Bridge Series, and it ended in heartbreak as the Giants snatched two wins in historically dramatic fashion.
The A’s won the opener on Friday, but on Saturday they blew a late lead on a pinch-hit homer by the Giants, and then on Sunday they blew another late lead on another pinch-hit homer by the Giants. No team in over a century of MLB history had ever hit a pinch-homer in the 8th inning or later to turn a deficit into a lead two days in a row.
- Game #123: A’s new hitters lead 4-1 victory over Giants
- Game #124: A’s lead all day, blow it in 9th, lose to Giants
- Game #125: A’s blow late lead again, lose to Giants again
The first half of the Bay Bridge Series didn’t go much better, including a game in which the A’s took a lead in the 10th inning but couldn’t finish it off.
And the worst part? The losses this weekend dropped Oakland out of Wild Card position, as they now trail the Red Sox by a half-game for the second spot.
That’s the bad news. Here’s some good news.
There’s still a month to go, and the postseason races for the AL West division (3.5 games) and both Wild Card spots (2.0 and 0.5) are close enough to be within reach. And while the A’s just lost a series this weekend, they hung tough against the team with the best record in MLB, and they were two bad pitches away from sweeping the Giants. Here are a few more bright sides.
1. Starling Marte is running wild
Oakland made a big gamble at the trade deadline, and it’s paying off. They needed to get on base and into scoring position more often, and Starling Marte has been the perfect sparkplug.
In the three games against the Giants, he went 6-for-13 with four doubles and four steals. On Friday he hit an RBI double, and then despite a mistake on the bases he created enough chaos to net another unearned run. On Saturday he doubled in the first run of the game. On Sunday he singled twice and stole second both times, then later doubled, but was stranded all three times.
In 22 games since the trade, Marte has now stolen 17 bases without being caught. That’s enough to rank eighth place in the AL already, and his overall total of 39 now leads the majors (he also ranks third in the NL from his time with the Marlins).
- Marte, OAK: .358/.392/.505, 152 wRC+, 17 SB, 2 HR, 8 doubles
The A’s didn’t finish off a couple close wins this weekend, but they’ve got one of the hottest players in the league batting second in their lineup.
2. Harrison and Gomes are hitting too
Marte isn’t the only new acquisition paying off.
How about Josh Harrison? He lived up to the super-sub title by starting at three different positions in this series, and he also produced at the plate. On Friday he played second base, and at the plate he cashed in a rally with a two-run single. On Saturday he played third base (check out this play!), and chipped in an RBI double at the plate. On Sunday he played shortstop, and in the 9th inning he doubled to put the tying run in scoring position but was stranded.
- Harrison, vs SF: 4-for-11, 2 doubles, 3 RBI, 1 run, 1 stolen base
Catcher Yan Gomes drew two starts behind the plate, and on Friday his double set up Harrison’s two-run hit.
- Gomes, vs SF: 3-for-8, double
Unfortunately the rest of the A’s hitters went 9-for-66. But we’re talking about good news here, so, the new hitters Marte, Harrison, and Gomes are helping!
3. Montas steps up
The rotation could use a boost. Chris Bassitt is injured, and Sean Manaea is in a slump.
Now Frankie Montas is stepping up. He threw a gem against the Giants, working seven scoreless innings, allowing just two hits, and striking out nine batters. That’s his best start of the season, and it continues a string of consistently good outings lately.
- Montas, last 8 starts: 2.36 ERA, 49⅔ ip, 66 K, 14 BB, 2 HR, .276 xwOBA
Seven of those eight have registered as quality starts, and the other only missed by one inning. And that span includes games against the Astros, White Sox, Padres, and Giants, all contenders with strong lineups.
Last weekend was a bummer for the A’s, but they’ve got some hot new hitters, and one of their starters is heating up too. That’s something to build on with more than a month to go in the postseason race.