Stop me if you have heard this before: The San Francisco Giants dropped Thursday night’s Bay Bridge opener at AT&T Park to the Oakland A’s, 8-2, as Jake Peavy got battered for seven runs without getting out of the fourth inning. This marks the fifth straight win by Oakland over the Giants this spring, including that of a split-squad game on March 14th, when the Giants managed to lose not only to the A’s 5-2, but to the Arizona Diamondbacks by an identical score.
I am here to tell you that unless you are an A’s fan, this information is about as new Gilligan’s Island reruns, and about as interesting. Yes, the Giants routinely take a thrashing from the A’s and everyone nods accordingly, and then life goes on.
Why is this the case? I’d say it’s baseball, but there is probably more to it than that. I suspect that the A’s take these confrontations very seriously, and that the Giants do not.
The Giants do not do that well in spring training against the A’s; ask them if they care.
They A’s have something to prove and the Giants do not. The A’s consequently play their backsides off, and the Giants-yawn-obviously do not.
The A’s are an enigma, as are the Giants, but for opposite reasons. The A’s take teams that are comprised of an assortment of acquisitions, mold them into contenders, and then watch as they fade down the stretch. Conversely, the Giants have a core of home-grown players, around which Brian Sabean constructs a team, and then watches as they gain strength down the stretch, going on to thrive in the playoffs.
The A’s feel they have to prove they are a superior team to the Giants, whereas the Giants don’t feel they have to prove anything. It’s ludicrous to think that a team that just accomplished what the Giants did last October, would be worried this spring that it was somehow going to fall by the wayside.
Oct 31, 2014; San Francisco, CA, USA; The San Francisco Giants team poses for photos during the World Series celebration at City Hall. The San Francisco Giants defeated the Kansas City Royals in game seven of the World Series. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports
I am not dissing on the A’s for playing hard, obviously; my hat’s off to them. What I am saying is that for those who are sitting back bemoaning how poorly Peavy pitched, or how flat the Orange and Black seem, give me a break. If for no other reason, playing in October in front of frenzied crowds-home or away-just does not compare to lazy spring afternoons in the desert, in front of 8,000 politely interested fans.
In Thursday night’s game, both Angel Pagan and Brandon Belt (# 4) went deep to account for the Giants’ two runs. Steve Okert (.2 IP, 3.38 ERA), Ryan Vogelsong (3 IP, 1 H, (6.45 ERA), Jeremy Affeldt (1 IP, 1 H, 5.84 ERA), and Santiago Casilla (1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 6.75 ERA) finished up for Jake Peavy.
Scott Kazmir started and went six innings, giving up the home run to Pagan and four hits, while neither striking out a batter nor walking anyone. The A’s combined for twelve hits and eight runs, both Marcus Semien and Billy Butler going deep with solo home runs, while Brett Lawrie and Sam Fuld each tripled. Butler also doubled in the fourth.
The second game of the series will be played at AT&T Park on Friday night, beginning at 7:15, with Matt Cain going for the Giants. Last season, in the four regular meetings, Cain was the only pitcher to prevail, picking up one of his two season wins against the A’s.
With only two more spring training games to go before the real deal, I am sure the Giants would like to win both, but since they are against Oakland they probably won’t.
And I’m OK with that.