The Oakland Athletics and San Francisco Giants will meet in their 21st annual Battle of the Bay July 14th in San Francisco. Which team will show that they are the real playoff contenders in the Bay?
The (modern-era) Oakland Athletics and San Francisco Giants met for the first time in the 1989 World Series made infamous by a 7.1 earthquake which rattled the Bay Area and delayed play between games three and four by 10 days. The A’s would sweep the Giants that year to become World Series Champions, the last time they won it all. Thereafter called “The Bay Bridge Series” because of the short 14 miles of San Francisco Bay that separates the two stadiums, the two teams did not begin regular season series against one another until 1997. Since then, the teams are 59-55 with Oakland barely ahead in the count. This year promises to be especially fierce, with both teams hoping to prove themselves playoff-worthy in their respective divisions.
The Giants sit at 49-46, fourth in the National League West, three games behind division-leading Dodgers and four games out of the Wild Card. The Giants are certainly still in contention, and their offense of late seems to be reawakening after a bit of a slump to start the month of July.
The Brandons (Crawford and Belt) are each having arguably one of the best seasons of their respective careers just past the halfway point in the season. Brandon Crawford was just selected as an All-Star for the first time in his career with an impressive slash of (.295/.362/.467). Brandon Belt (.297/.392/.497) was also nearly an All-Star but lost the final vote yesterday to the well-deserving Brewer’s Jesus Aguilar. Six-time All-Star (including 2018) Buster Posey will not play in the series as he is out with an injured hip that will also cause him to miss the All-Star Game. The Giants are 4-6 in their last ten games.
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The Oakland Athletics are 53-41, eight games behind Houston in their division (despite taking three of the past four games from the division leaders) and five games behind Seattle in the Wild Card race. The A’s have been hot, going 7-3 in their last ten, and they have not lost a series since being swept by the Astros in June. They have an unsurpassed offense late in games, and when they have the lead, the don’t lose it. The lead the MLB in runs scored in the 8th and 9th innings, they are 35-0 when leading after 7 innings and 42-0 when leading after 8.
The A’s, in particular, are in the difficult position wherein they must decide by the trade deadline whether or not they feel that they can actually make a run for the postseason. The results of the six games against San Francisco promise to help tip the balance in one direction or the other, and a lot is on the line.
It’s been a few years since both the Oakland Athletics and the Giants were winning and relevant when they Battled for the Bay. The Giants are clearly contenders but need to make a push to continue to climb the ladder. The A’s have a much higher mountain to climb, and the clock is ticking.