A's-Giants Preview: 3 reasons why each team could win the series

A's-Giants Preview: 3 reasons why each team could win the series

The San Francisco Giants and Oakland Athletics haven't made the playoffs in the same season since 2014, but that could change this year.

The Giants enter this weekend's Bay Bridge Series with the best record (78-43) in Major League Baseball, while the A's (69-53) lead the Boston Red Sox by half a game for the second AL wild-card spot.

San Francisco took two of three in Part 1 of the Bay Bridge Series at Oracle Park in June. Here are three reasons why each team could win this weekend's series in Oakland, beginning with the visitors:


1. Starting Pitching

Both teams have enjoyed stellar starting pitching this season, but San Francisco has the edge in two of the three games this weekend, at least on paper. Friday night's matchup features Alex Wood (10-3, 4.14 ERA) against James Kaprielian (6-4, 3.33), perhaps the one contest where you could lean toward Oakland, although the Giants are an incredible 11-0 when Wood pitches following a loss.

On Saturday, Kevin Gausman (12-5, 2.40) has to get the nod over Sean Manaea (8-8, 3.77), particularly when you consider that Manaea has allowed 15 earned runs in 11 innings this month for an ERA of 12.27.

Sunday's finale pits young Logan Webb (7-3, 2.92) against Frankie Montas (9-9, 4.04). Webb has been brilliant in four starts this month, going 3-0 with a 1.78 ERA. Montas has been inconsistent most of the year, though he is certainly capable of pitching a gem. Still, this one favors the Giants.

2. Long Ball

San Francisco has launched 181 home runs this season, second-most in MLB behind only the Toronto Blue Jays (183). A total of nine Giants have belted at least 10 homers (10 if you include Kris Bryant), and Austin Slater is just one away from double digits. From middle-of-the-lineup sluggers like Bryant, Brandon Crawford and Mike Yastrzemski to under-the-radar bats like LaMonte Wade Jr. and Darin Ruf, this entire batting order can leave the yard at any moment.

Of course, the A's have their share of power bats as well, ranking 10th in MLB with 155 homers. But when it comes to lineup depth, San Francisco has the clear edge.

3. Brandon Crawford

The Giants All-Star shortstop is having a career year at the age of 34. Crawford is putting up elite numbers with a .300/.366/.536 slash line, 19 home runs and 70 RBI. And oh, by the way, you may have noticed he can still play some defense.

In a stunningly impressive season for San Francisco, Crawford has been the biggest surprise of all, leading the team in hits, runs, home runs, RBI, total bases and WAR. His impact on both sides of the ball could certainly carry the Giants to a series victory this weekend.


1. Starling Marte

You could argue there hasn't been a more valuable trade deadline acquisition than Marte. The A's center fielder is making a strong push for AL Player of the Month, hitting .371/.400/.514 with two home runs, four doubles and 12 stolen bases in August.

Marte has completely changed the feel of the Oakland lineup, providing a much-needed spark at the top of the order. He is simply electric at the plate and on the basepaths, and he makes everyone around him better. With Marte in the lineup, this is a very different A's team than the one San Francisco saw in June.

2. The Matts

Matt Olson has been absolutely crushing baseballs all season long, ranking fifth in MLB with 31 home runs. Matt Chapman is a different story.

But that has changed over the past week. In his last seven games, Chapman has gone 10 for 23 with five home runs, raising his OPS from .680 to .725.

With Olson and Chapman both producing at the same time, the A's lineup has become significantly more dangerous. If the Matts continue to rake this series, the Giants' pitching staff could be in for a long weekend.

3. Bullpen

After struggling for much of the season, the Oakland bullpen has suddenly become a major strength. Over the last month, the A's pen has posted a 2.45 ERA, the lowest in MLB.

The addition of Andrew Chafin has bolstered the unit, with the left-hander pitching 10 1/3 scoreless innings since joining the Athletics. Veteran righty Sergio Romo has also been lights out recently, allowing just one run in his last 20 1/3 innings.

Closer Lou Trivino has been consistent all year, converting 20 of 22 save opportunities with a 1.75 ERA. Meanwhile, Yusmeiro Petit and A.J. Puk have made valuable contributions as well. If Oakland has a lead in the late innings this weekend, it should be lights out.

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