O.CO COLISEUM — By the fifth inning of Monday’s Bay Bridge series, it was clear. Oakland was going to run over the Giants.
Photos by Godofredo Vasquez/SFBay
By the end of the night, Oakland won 5-0, with Giant starter Ryan Vogelsong (L, 5-6, 3.92 ERA) charged with three runs and A’s starter Jesse Chavez (W, 7-5, 3.06 ERA) pitching a nine-strikeout gem, allowing virtually nothing.
The Giants could only muster five hits, with two more batters taking a free base.
Oakland’s first run came on the cheapest of walks in the bottom of the fifth, though, as Craig Gentry took first on a hit by pitch though a replay clearly showed the ball never touched him.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy challenged the play, which was upheld. Gentry stole second on the very first pitch, then advanced to third on a bunt from Coco Crisp, which he outran for a single.
Catcher John Jaso grounded out to second in the next at bat, but the speedy Gentry crossed home plate.
Another controversial hit-by-pitch ruling came in the next inning, as one of Vogelsong’s fastballs ran in on the hands of third baseman Josh Donaldson.
The ball appeared to hit the knob of the bat, something that A’s manager Bob Melvin agreed with, until Donaldson felt some pain in his left hand.
Crew chief Angel Hernandez initially ruled strike three, but recanted after seeing Donaldson’s bruised hand. Donaldson explained:
“He did the right thing, I got to give him some credit right there, because when I heard it, it sounded like the bat. Obviously, I feel my hand throbbing, so I know it hit my hand. So I don’t fault him for thinking it was a foul ball. But he did the right thing, saw the swelling, and said ‘now I have to ask if you swing.’”
Donaldson certainly didn’t swing, though his hands were moving forward and into the zone, keeping the barrel of the bat steady.
It’s a gray area of baseball rules, with little definition regarding what constitutes a swing. If a ball hits the bat, then hits the batter, the player is out. But if the ball hits both the bat and batter, it’s a walk.
A ball is in play regardless of whether the batter swings, if it hits any part of the bat, as longtime baseball fans have surely seen before.
The ruling led to two more runs coming in for Oakland.
Jed Lowrie singled and second baseman Alberto Callaspo stepped up, looking for a fastball. A fastball came, and Callaspo crushed it. A two-RBI double from Callaspo made it 3-0.
The final run all but sealed the deal for Game 1 of the series, as Jaso scored in the seventh on a sacrifice fly from first baseman Brandon Moss. On the very next at bat, Donaldson hit a single to center field, scoring outfielder Yoenis Cespedes.
The two hit-by-pitch rulings didn’t take away from Chavez’s night, at least not in the Oakland clubhouse.
Chavez was all smiles, joking with newly acquired pitcher Jason Hammel. Something happened, presumably Chavez stepping in out of turn in the showers, but Hammel didn’t mind. In his opinion, Chavez could do no wrong after his performance.
Donaldson chimed in, too:
“I looked up at like the fifth or sixth inning after he punched out one of their guys and saw a bunch of K’s up there. I was like ‘dang.’ I didn’t realize it was that many guys but he did a great job for us. Quality start after quality start.”
The reeling Giants have dropped 10-1/2 games in the standings. Oakland, meanwhile, continues to roll and have won 10 of their last 11 home games.
Outfielder Craig Gentry now has a streak of 28 consecutive successful stolen base attempts, dating back to August of 2013. … Jed Lowrie (2-for-4, 1 run) has collected multiple hits in three consecutive games for the first time this season. … The San Francisco Giants have lost 10 of their last 12 games in Oakland and are 7-19 in their last 26 games after going 42-21 in their first 63 games. They are 2-2 on this five-game road trip to San Diego (2-1) and Oakland (0-1). … Brandon Crawford (1-for-3, strikeout) committed a career-high tying two errors for the third time. The last was Sept. 26, 2012 against Arizona.