Two teams surprisingly headed in opposite directions open a two-game interleague series Saturday afternoon when the San Francisco Giants cross the Bay Bridge to take on the host Oakland Athletics.
The rivals split a two-game set in San Francisco earlier in the season, with the Giants breezing to an 8-2 win on April 26 before the A’s rebounded with a 1-0 victory the following day.
Left-hander Carlos Rodon (9-6, 3.00 ERA), who picked up the win on April 26, will get the start on Saturday against right-hander Adam Oller (1-4, 7.68).
When the Athletics previously faced the Giants, the latter club was in first place in the National League West in an attempt to repeat as division champion.
But having lost 12 of 15 since the All-Star break, the Giants now find themselves far closer to last place than first in the West. They were swept in a four-game series by the first-place Los Angeles Dodgers this week.
Both the Giants and A’s were idle on Friday. That gave San Francisco manager Gabe Kapler an extra 24 hours to cool off from his first ejection of the season in Thursday’s 5-3 setback to the Dodgers.
“We’re all frustrated,” Kapler said after the game. “We don’t want to play like this.”
San Francisco already has matched last season’s loss total of 55 with 56 games left in the season.
The Giants’ last win came the last time Rodon took the mound. He scattered two hits and struck out 10 batters in San Francisco’s 4-0 win over the Chicago Cubs on Sunday.
He was nearly as good in his earlier outing against the A’s, allowing one run and three hits in six innings. The 29-year-old has made five career starts against the A’s, going 3-1 with a 3.45 ERA. He’s 1-1 with a 4.67 ERA in three starts in Oakland.
Oller, on the other hand, has never faced the Giants.
Since allowing five runs in 1 1/3 innings to the Tampa Bay Rays in his major-league debut, Oller has seen his ERA drop in 10 of his last 11 appearances.
The 27-year-old is coming off a 4-1 road loss against the Chicago White Sox on Sunday, a game in which he gave up all four runs in 6 1/3 innings.
Oller’s task could get tougher if Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford (knee), outfielder Joc Pederson (concussion) and utility infielder Thairo Estrada (concussion) are able to return from injuries. It’s possible all could see playing time before the series ends on Sunday.
Oller’s loss on Sunday was one of just five the A’s have experienced in their 14 games since the All-Star break. Their two-game sweep of the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim, including a 3-1 win over Shohei Ohtani on Wednesday, had Oakland just four games behind the Angels in its quest to escape last place in the American League West for the first time since May.
The A’s have been doing it since dealing their ace pitcher (Frankie Montas) and closer (Lou Trivino) to the New York Yankees for minor leaguers at the trade deadline.
“Now that (the deadline) came and went, we’re going to miss the guys we lost,” catcher Stephen Vogt said. “But (manager Mark) Kotsay said it best: ‘Hey, this is who’s here. Let’s go.’ This team, we’ve got a lot to prove.”
–Field Level Media