Giants, A’s play for pride in weekend series

With the A’s having been long ago bounced from the postseason race, and the Giants’ elimination on the horizon, this weekend’s late-season Bay Area matchup is as close as the two fan bases will get to a World Series.

In Oakland’s final home series, the Giants (79-73) will make an incredibly late interleague trip to O.co Coliseum.

After three consecutive postseason appearances, the Oakland Athletics (64-89) came into 2015 with curbed expectations. Though a 90-loss season is not what the team or fans thought they’d see, they still have something to play for this weekend: The chance to erase their cross-bay rivals from postseason contention.

A’s manager Bob Melvin expects his team to be ready for the series:

“This place is going to be packed and there’s going to be excitement, and our fans are going to expect to perform better than we have here recently, so we’d better be up for it.”

The Giants, on the other hand, will need to win out to maintain their sliver of playoff hopes.

After sweeping three games between the two clubs in San Francisco over the final weekend in July, the G-Men will need the same on the road, as they face an eight-game deficit with only 10 games left on the schedule.

Game 1 of the series, a 7:05 p.m. first pitch on Friday, pits Oakland ace Sonny Gray (13-7, 2.72 ERA) against Mike Leake (10-9, 3.81 ERA) who hopes to prove his worth to San Francisco.

Game 2, however, will garner the most attention, as two of the A’s Big Three from the early 2000s will face off. Tim Hudson (8-8, 4.20 ERA) will go for the Giants, while Barry Zito (0-0, 18.00 ERA) — who spent the season in Triple-A — will take the hill for the hometown A’s.

In the likely finale of each man’s illustrious career, Zito will look to get his first big league win in nearly two years against the team with whom he spent seven seasons.

The final member of the Big Three, Mark Mulder, will take the hill on Sunday, but only to throw out the ceremonial first pitch, as Oakland celebrates the pitching staff that carried them to the playoffs in four straight seasons.

Sunday’s matchup will feature Chris Heston (11-10, 3.51 ERA) in the Giants’ gray unis and Sean Nolin (1-1, 4.57 ERA) in the Sunday gold.

As both teams have been decimated by the injury bug, neither will send out the squad they had hoped for at season’s opening, but that will likely not affect the emotion in the park.

Melvin believes emotion will carry both teams, despite their respective disappointing won-lost records:

“You get into the position we’re in right now – you kind of see the end of the season and you start losing some games – there’s just not a lot of energy. But we’d better pick it up (this weekend) and I don’t know why there wouldn’t be energy, because this place is going to be exciting.”