Giants explode to prevent Bay Bridge series sweep
Oakland starter Dillon Overton was unable to continue the success of fellow rookie hurlers Sean Manaea (3-4, 5.40 ERA) and Daniel Mengden (1-3, 2.81 ERA), who had each won a game in the series. Instead, the lefty was chased from the game by an eight-run barrage, lasting just three innings.
Overton (L, 1-1, 11.42 ERA), who normally relies heavily on his changeup, said his tough night centered on his inability to command his go-to pitch:
“Usually I can throw the changeup any time, any place. But tonight I didn’t really have a good feel for it. It was hard to throw it for a strike, and when I did I left it up… At this level, when you leave them up, they make you pay for it.”
Charged by the pitching and hitting heroics of ace Madison Bumgarner (W, 9-4, 2.20 ERA) the Giants (50-31) salvaged a single win in the four-game set. The red hot A’s (35-43) did not go without a fight, however, as they battled back knocking the lefty out in the seventh, giving themselves a crack at the dilapidated San Francisco bullpen.
Given a lead on the strength of a first-inning solo home run from Marcus Semien (16), Overton looked good early, throwing up two zeroes.
Giant manger Bruce Bochy’s decision to forgo a designated hitter in favor of his slugging starter Bumgarner to bat came into play in the third. And the imposing ace cashed in.
A’s slender lefty Overton said that, going into the game, the plan was to approach “Mad Bum,” who boasts 13 career home runs, as hitting threat:
“He swings the bat like he’s an everyday position player. He swings it with passion, he swings it hard.”
Bumgarner led off the third like that legitimate risk, by working his way into a 3-1 count before hammering a line drive to deep center.
As was the case with the Giants defense on Wednesday, Billy Burns came just shy of reeling in the out. Following a walk of Denard Span, a pop up off the bat of Angel Pagan narrowly escaped the glove of an onrushing Coco Crisp in shallow left field.
Manager Bob Melvin said that the near misses were not the products of poor effort:
“Coco had to run a long way for (that) ball. And, in center field, the ball hit right at you on a line – you’ve got to be pretty perfect. I thought (Burns) made a really good effort on (the play). (He) almost got to it.”
Like the A’s had done a day prior, the visitors capitalized on the opportunity allotted to them.
In the four pitches following Pagan’s single, which loaded the bases, Overton was crushed for a double and back-to-back home runs handing the Giants a 6-1 lead.
San Fran added two more in the fourth, on RBI hits from Pagan and Brandon Crawford, the second of which came on the final pitch of Overton’s night:
“It looked like he was just missing with some pitches. He got into some bad counts. (He) wasn’t really able to establish (the changeup), and when he threw it over the plate they hit it.”
The Oakland chip-away attack began in the bottom half of the same inning, with a run-scoring single from Jake Smolinski.
The right fielder was again involved in the seventh, as he was on base when Yonder Alonso delivered Bumgarner’s knockout blow — a two-run dinger (3).
The injury-riddled Giants bullpen, which had been tagged for 12 runs in the previous three games, did shut the door, though with little emphasis, coughing up two cosmetic runs over the final 2-2/3. The Oakland bullpen was not able make the late surge count, allowing four more runs in the ninth and sealing their fate.
The A’s now swing their focus from the NL West to the NL Central, with the Pittsburgh Pirates (38-41) coming to town for a weekend tilt.
Prior to the game, reliever Sean Doolittle (2-2, 2.93 ERA) was placed on the 15-day disabled list with what the skipper called “subtle changes in the labrum.” The lefty asserted that the injury is nothing like the one that shelved him for much of the 2015 season, saying that the diagnosis was actually “pretty good news”:
“Basically, it’s just really inflamed and swollen.”
“(There is) no need for any procedure — no surgery… Just some ol’ fashioned ice and rest.”