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Homers burn Tarnok, Harris in loss to Giants

The rookie tandem had moments but struggled to keep the Giants inside the park.

MLB: Oakland Athletics at San Francisco Giants Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Following a night of spirit, unity, and solidarity between the two fanbases, the San Francisco Giants reminded the Oakland Athletics who’s running the Bay Area, delivering a two-game sweep and clinching at least a season split for the Battle of the Bay.

Hogan Harris was initially listed as the game’s starter but the A’s made a last-minute call for fellow freshman Freddy Tarnok to start his first career game and for Harris to follow him in a righty-lefty tandem. By the end of their outings, the rookie duo was exposed for making a few too many mistakes.

The rough performance started in the 1st inning with Tarnok failing to keep runners off the bases and balls inside the park. After allowing a leadoff walk to Lamonte Wade Jr., the 24-year-old was able to get Wilmer Flores out swinging over an 86 mph changeup. On the second pitch of the next at-bat against J.D. Davis, Tarnok showed his youth with a 96 mph four-seamer straight down the middle that got shot over and past the red brick wall in right field, giving the Giants an early 2-0 lead.

His struggles continued in the 2nd inning when he gave up a single and double to Mike Yastrzemski and Casey Schmitt, respectively, that scored another Giants run and extended their lead to 3-0. Tarnok was able to redeem himself a bit by striking Wade out to end the 2nd before getting Flores and Davis to fly out to start the 3rd. Hopefully, the rookie can take some lessons from his rotation debut and come out stronger next time around.

Harris came into the game with a bit more experience than Tarnok, having pitched in 11 games and starting five of them, but you could see the difference. For the vast majority of his outing, the southpaw looked like he had the Giants lineup under control, retiring the first seven batters that he faced, including a couple of strikeouts. His confidence and composure were noticeable in contrast to the fresh feel of Tarnok.

The A’s battled back in the top of the 4th, starting with a 1-out double from JJ Bleday, who’s quietly having a big start to the second half. Since the All-Star break, the outfielder is walking at a whopping 24.4% rate while hitting three homers in 11 games, adding up to an unsustainable yet impressive 172 wRC+.

Ramon Laureano in his first start back from IL worked a walk to get on base behind Bleday. With 2 outs, Mark Kotsay to left-handed Jace Peterson to pinch-hit for Aledmys Diaz against righty Jakob Junis in what essentially turned out to be a bullpen game for the Giants. It turned out to be a good choice as Peterson popped a short single right up the middle to shallow center that easily scored Bleday, who was running on contact. Giants rookie centerfielder Luis Matos naively tried to throw Laureano out at third but instead threw it past the third baseman allowing Laser to score and make it a tight 3-2 game. Four pitches later, Shea Langeliers tied the game up with a hard-hit groundball single to right field.

With the game tied going into the 6th inning and Harris on a roll, there was a good feeling that the A’s might split the two-game series. That feeling began to wither as Flores lead off the inning with a ground-rule double, handing Harris his first baserunner of the night. A couple batters later, Giants manager Gabe Kapler went to right-handed Austin Slater to pinch-hit against the rookie southpaw and it was another sound managing decision as Slater sent an 88 mph cutter over the left-center field wall, putting the Giants back up 5-3.

Unfortunately, the A’s were never able to get back in the game as the bullpen continued to unravel in the 8th inning. Angel Felipe and Sam Long allowed another trio of Giants runs, extinguishing any momentum the A’s were attempting to muster. Oakland’s offense went silent for the last five innings and the team was forced to leave Oracle Park with a pair of L’s. The A’s fanbase, however, will certainly take the moral victory against John Fisher as a redeeming aspect of the trip across the Bay Bridge.