The San Francisco Giants took the final game of a three game set, 4-3, Sunday afternoon sweeping the Oakland A’s and in doing so gained ground on the first-place L.A. Dodgers. Going into the weekend, the Giants were three games back in the N.L. West but thanks to sweeping the Bay Bridge Series, the 2014 World Series Champion Giants find themselves only one game back.
The Giants took game one easily with a 9-3 blowout on Friday night and relied on great pitching and timely hitting to win the last two, one-run games 2-1 and 4-3. Friday is the trade deadline for players involved in trades to be eligible for postseason play. It’s a nerve-racking week for teams frantic to shore up their rosters for a possible postseason run and for teams, like the Oakland A’s, not in contention looking to dump veterans trying to find a team willing to absorb high-salaried contracts.
San Francisco is 54-44 having won five in a row and 9-1 in their last ten games. Meanwhile, the Athletics have as many wins as the Giants have losses at 44-56, last in the A.L. West, nine games back of the L.A. Angels. Since the All-Star Game in Cincinnati on July 14, Buster Posey is hitting .469, Matt Duffy .359, Joe Panik .343 and Hunter Pence .343. As a team, the Giants have 17 doubles, 10 home runs, and scored 45 runs in nine games.
Oakland, notorious for making second-half runs to the postseason may not be as fortunate this year. The A’s lead the majors in errors with 87, nine errors more than the Milwaukee Brewers and eleven more than the Texas Rangers.
Shortstop Marcus Semien alone has 28 and Brett Lawrie 19 at third base. On offense, 26-year old leftfielder Jake Smolinski is hitting .389, 7 for 18 since the All-Star Game. Ike Davis is hitting at a .385 clip and Billy Burns .324. Stephen Vogt and Josh Reddick are the only two A’s with double-digit home runs with 14 and 12 respectively. Brett Lawrie leads the team in hits with 95 while Billy Burns is the only player to be hitting over .300 with a .305 average.
By comparison, last year the A’s had 98 home runs at the All-Star break with three players, Moss 21, Donaldson 20, and Cespedes 14 leading, all of whom are no longer on the A’s roster. This year the team’s total at the break was 74.
Pitching, as usual, is keeping the Giants in contention. Madison Bumgarner is 11-5 followed by Chris Heston at 10-5 in wins. Bumgarner won 18 games last year and might well be on his way to his first career 20-win season.
The Giants host the Brewers starting Monday night and the Oakland A’s open a quick two-game series against the L.A. Dodgers starting in L.A. on Tuesday before coming home to face the Cleveland Indians for a weekend series on Thursday.