The Dodgers are breathing down the Giants necks as the weekend arrives.
I don’t want to talk about the San Francisco Giants “rivalry” with the Oakland A’s. I don’t want to talk about the “Battle of the Bay” or the silly trophy, or anything.
I like the A’s, and I don’t want to help manufacture a rivalry, or even spend time poking fun of it because Sami already did an excellent job at that.
So let’s bring a team I do dislike into the fold: the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers have shrunk the Giants lead in the NL West to 2.5 games over the last few days. Rude.
While the Giants will be taking on the very good A’s from Friday through Sunday, the Dodgers will be hosting the New York Mets. The Mets are losers of six of their last seven games, with four of those six coming at the hands of the Dodgers, and the one win coming against the Giants.
Hold the lead, Giants. By any means necessary.
Who: San Francisco Giants vs. Oakland A’s
Where: RingCentral Coliseum, Oakland, California
When: Friday (6:40 p.m.), Saturday (1:07 p.m.), and Sunday (1:07 p.m.)
National broadcasts: None
Where they stand
San Francisco Giants
Record: 78-43, 1st in the NL West
Run differential: +143, 2nd in the NL
Postseason standing: 1st seed
Momentum: 1-game losing streak, 8-2 in their last 10 games
Record: 69-53, 2nd in the AL West
Run differential: +70, 5th in the AL
Postseason standing: 2nd Wild Card, 2.5 games out of the AL West
Momentum: 1-game winning streak, 5-5 in their last 10 games
Season series: Giants lead 2-1
Three Giants to watch
Buster Posey: When things get tense I turn to Buster Posey. It’s as simple as that. The Giants have put themselves in this wonderful position largely because of their remarkable depth. But when the games start feeling extra important, it’s natural to start glancing nervously at the team’s biggest stars and the faces of their franchise. And that’s Buster Posey.
Kevin Gausman: Gausman’s last three starts have been much better than his three prior starts, but he’s still been looking more like a high-quality starter than an ace lately. There’s nothing wrong with that, but, uhh … if he wanted to return to ace status that would be awesome. And if he wanted to do it against the A’s, that would be doubly awesome.
Mike Yastrzemski: The Giants season has been made up of surprises, and the overwhelming majority of them have been positive. But perhaps the biggest negative surprise has been the struggling bat of Yastrzemski. Yaz has still been a quality player thanks to playing the outfield grass brilliantly, but his offense has slipped, especially of late. He’s basically been a league average hitter, with a 101 OPS+ and 103 wRC+. He wasn’t setting the world on fire earlier in the year, but he was still having a good offensive season — but this August has corrupted that. So far in the month he’s hitting 8-50 with 1 home run, 2 doubles, and 4 walks, for just a .482 OPS. The A’s are using two righties in this series, so Yaz will have a chance to get back on track.
Three A’s to watch
Starling Marte: The A’s made one of the biggest moves at the trade deadline, when they sent pitcher Jesús Luzardo — a top-10 prospect a year ago, with five years of team control — to the Miami Marlins for a few months of Marte. The veteran outfielder has been brilliant in Oakland, hitting .341/.382/.463. He’s a danger every time he’s in the batter’s box, and it’s greatly helped the Athletics’ offense.
Matt Olson: Since the Giants last faced Matt Olson, they drafted a player named Mat Olsen. Hopefully Olsen lives up to his homophone, because Olson is hitting .279/.376/.567 with 31 home runs. I can hear Kruk say “he can hit” just looking at him, and the Giants are sending a pair of right-handed pitchers at the powerful lefty. If you’re a pessimistic Giants fan, buy tickets in the right field bleachers and bring a glove.
Frankie Montas: Montas, a right-handed pitcher, is having a sneaky good season. His ERA is at 4.04, but his FIP is 3.44, and he has 152 strikeouts to 39 walks in 136 innings. The Giants had mixed results when they faced Montas in June, forcing 96 pitches out of him in just 5 innings, but only scoring 2 runs. Both Montas and the Giants will be trying to improve on that.